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Christmas: A time for Choosing Joy

Christmas tree boughs in the background, red cloth ribbon, white tree lights, and a copper gold ornament that says "joy" on it
Christmas is full of mixed emotions…but choosing joy is never a bad choice.

In our house, Christmas is a time of year that brings so many things to the forefront. Sure, we expect to feel excitement, happiness and warmth from the gathering of family and the goodwill that people spread, but that isn’t all that I see around here.

There is always such a host of things waiting to present challenges at this time of year. My wonderful husband and I work hard to make sure the holidays have built in times for quiet and peace to return to our children’s hearts, in an effort to make it easier for all of us. Without the little breaks and a conscious effort not to over-schedule, we would certainly descend into chaos. The reason for the looming possibility of the descent into chaos is three-fold.

To start, we have five sons between the two of us, and four out of the five have what we lovingly call “technical difficulties”. We have a crew that struggles with Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, Premature birth defects, Tourette Syndrome, Depression and Anxiety, and learning disabilities.

Make no mistake, I need no pity or anything regarding the variety of needs the boys have. We handle them well, I would say, as both my husband and I anticipate and make adjustments ahead of time for the needs of our children, and handle things as a team. We are entering the teen years (some are in it and some just heading there) with our boys, and our oldest is already living in his own apartment. We have been at this separately for a long time, and together just over two years. I will talk in depth about the management of our team and our differences in later posts, but for now, let us just say we have it down to a manageable science for the most part.

Blending is an issue, what with dealing with some of the children that go between two households, and others that don’t. They also have to learn daily to deal with each other. That has gotten a lot better since the early days, but it is a blessing to have a partner to navigate it with that is understanding and fully supportive. When we stand together, the house cannot crumble.

The boys would be a challenge to lead if those were the only things, but just when my hubby and I got together, we lost my father. He had been a very big part of my children’s lives, and his loss truly made a hole in the fabric of Christmas. The first year was so hard, and the second only marginally better. This year, it seems to be going along a bit better, but we still have to consciously redirect the children from sorrow into gratefulness.

That gratefulness is what I have found is the magic ingredient to a house that chooses joy. We could give in to frustration, confusion, anger and chaos. Sure. That would be simple, and some may even say those emotions are something everyone would understand if we were to just flaunt them. Sure. Not in my house though. My father, my Papa, was a man who intentionally put his feet in the footsteps of the Father. God led my Papa every day of his life, and I believe, that he sings with the choir now. His deep bass voice was made to resonate in the halls of the Almighty. He would not want us to remember his loss, or to remember that we all have so many things to worry about. His constant choice of joy in every season is what we choose to instill in our boys. Grandpa wouldn’t want them to worry and be sad. He would wrap them in his arms and point at the snowflakes falling outside…and whisper things about the uniqueness of each flake…and the fact that they were each perfect snowflakes made by God. Not a single mistake or flaw in any single one of them, and all a delight to Him. He would scrunch and squish each of us into our snow pants, toques and mitts, and drag us all out the door for a “quick walk”. We would not return for hours, because there is so much more out there than we thought. Papa made me a lover of the simple joys that God gives us every day, and helped me understand that life is a wondrous mix of all of the little things.

So, yes, today and every day, I choose joy. I choose to find it in the unique snowflakes, my unique and special children, my unique man that God has blessed me with, and my blessed life. I hope you find joy in these days leading up to Christmas day…and share that joy with those around you.

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