About Cheerio

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In general I am a cheery and energetic person. But I am enshrouded in a cloak of iron. That cloak is the weight of greiving my son, whom I've lost to adoption.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Christmas - the season of dread

Today is January 25th – it is one month after Christmas.  I just finished putting away the Christmas stuff.  I have also done a lot of reflecting and comparing this Christmas of 2019 to last year and others prior.

I think the last I celebrated Christmas – celebrated; as in really threw myself into it and enjoyed the season, played the music, and happily bought or made gifts and wrapped presents, was probably 2007.  Each year since then had its own wave of “hard”. 

That first Christmas after my son was born was undeniably difficult.  The following first few years I was still completely under the adoption spell and in denial.  I still believed the lies of adoption, that he was “where he belonged” that he deserved better, that love was not enough, that I would have ruined him, etc. 

During the early years I still got pictures of him each January (semi-closed adoption, all communication sent and forwarded by disgusting unholy adoption agency, bethany non-christian services), and those pictures were my way to stay afloat, and perhaps helped keep me in denial.  
When they arrived it gave me what I felt like I needed to go another year until another batch of pictures would come in.  My way of coping was to push away any negative thoughts and focus only on the positives (how happy and healthy he looked in the pictures) – denial much?

By 2001 pictures were not arriving as previously.  Also, the pain did not “fade” as the coercive greedy adoption agency said it would.  Instead, it was getting more intense.  I was still in the fog and viewed adoption as “beautiful”, but I also felt like I needed a little help with coping, and I began to find on-line resources.  My getting to the point of “unraveling” was just a few years later when the depression began to creep in two months before his birthday in October.  It got heavier at Thanksgiving and the weeks leading up to Christmas got more oppressive each year. 

I developed a survival skill of avoidance.  It seemed to work the first few years when I just skipped out of church on the days of the children’s Christmas play and such events.  But then it mushroomed
to the point that I did not go to church the whole month of December, I refused to listen to any Christmas music, thus no radio, I got angry when seeing billboards or ads in the Sunday newspaper, I would not go to any Christmas type events, I completely stopped decorating, resisted there being a Christmas tree in the house, and I would not even open Christmas cards (unless they were from my online Cheerio family”-which was my only ray of light in those days).  I pretty much tried to pretend that Christmas did not exist.  It was not fun and I woke up each day wishing Christmas was over and it would be January already.

However, no matter how awful I felt or depressed I was, I consistently sent presents, cards, letters, and pictures to my son and his family.  I did my best to make the packages as festive as possible, and wished he would only feel the immense love I had for him and I hoped the heaviness I felt never bled through for him to feel. 

One tradition I accidentally started was sending a Christmas ornament each year.  The only requirement was that the ornament had two characters – symbolizing both of his original parents.  Part of the tradition was buying two ornaments; sending one to him and keeping the other for myself.  The first few years I enjoyed getting the ornaments out – in sequence, and as I hung them I would reminisce if there was a particular reason for that year’s ornament.  But it just got to be too painful being reminded of what was not.  I wrote about it here (click to open prior post.)  When I unpacked the Hallmark Ornaments to hang this year, I was surprised to realize that ornaments I kept for myself over the past seven years were purchased and put into storage unopened.   

But this year – Christmas of 2019 – this year was completely different. 
This year it was a very merry affair

I rekindled the old tradition of going out to get our live tree the day after Thanksgiving.
I pulled out all the Hallmark Ornaments and lined them up on the couch (in sequence by year, of course).  Mr. Cheerio plugged in the lights and wound them around the tree.  I asked him – to his utter surprise – to put on Christmas music several times before Christmas.  I opened the Christmas cards and hung them above a window.  I went shopping. Yes, I did.  I actually went to stores and walked around the Christmas sections without wincing (and I should have bought the shower curtain with gingerbread men on it!).  

The difference this year is that my son kicked off reunion back in March.  He went from occasional snail mail to regular contact via fb, text, e-mail, and phone calls.  Plus there were three more visits after our first face to face, and they (he and my favorite daughter-in-law) asked to visit us several days after Christmas.  They not only visited, but they stayed with us and we brought in the New Year together!

The Hallmark Ornament I picked for us this year is a heart shaped picture frame with “1st Christmas Together” inscribed on the side.  
The photo I put in the frame is one of the four of us on a hiking adventure during our last visit at their place.  I didn’t want to take down the tree this year because it felt so good to see and it just kept bringing more joy and happiness.

If you would have told me Christmas a year ago that I would feel content and celebrate, I would have given you an incredibly harsh scolding – and good chance I would have lost my temper with you too.  Even if I knew last December that our reunion would soon start, I would NEVER have predicted this precious and priceless blessing.  I have a wonderful and incredibly thoughtful son and sweet and loving daughter-in-law.  I think this year I have experienced a healing I have heard a few talk about, but never imagined for myself.