Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 2008 in review

It's time for the post-Christmas wrap up. Daddy-O and I were reflecting on how much we enjoyed our Christmas this year. That's not to say that we don't normally enjoy the holidays... however, I'm sure you can all relate to the stresses of extended family cohabiting in cramped conditions. I can honestly say that this was probably one of the best Christmases we've ever had. I think there were many factors which contributed to this. It's a mixed bag of blessings, though, to be sure.

Daddy-O and I set our holiday schedule before we even got married. I've seen too many family feuds erupt over which grandparents would get to host baby's first Christmas, etc and wasn't about to fall into that trap. So we agreed to spend Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with mine, then switch it off the next year. This way we can project where we will be on any given year. This year happens to be our year to spend Christmas with my family in northern California. The typical clan has always included Daddy-O, Ben, Danny & I; my mom & her partner of 25+ years, Ival (Papa); my sister, her husband and 2 boys; and my grandparents.

Many things were different this year. This was our second Christmas home with out Papa. He passed on Valentine's Day 2006. I always miss him particularly at this time of year. He was a very difficult person to buy for. One year (about 18 years ago) I hit him just right with his gift and got him something he truly loved and appreciated. I tried unsuccessfully every year after to recreate the magic. I do love a challenge.

We were also without my grandparents this year. Grandpa Jess had a small stroke around December 16th. Thankfully, he's going to be fine after some intensive rehabilitation. But he will be 90 years old in January and he scared us half to death. At any rate, obviously they couldn't make to trip from Hemet with Grandpa in the hospital. So our family unit was shy three on Christmas morning.

Since my grandparents stayed home their dog, Coco was also absent. As was Simba, Mom's very large Golden Retriever and Lady, Papa's Australian Shepard mix. Both had to be put down earlier this year. All sad things, to be sure but also made for six less large bodies in a small house over-full of gifts in bad weather.

Another change this year is that Ben is medicated for his ADHD. This is no small matter. In fact, this may have been the single biggest contributing factor to the Christmas Calm. We actually had to wake the kids up at 7:00 to open presents. And it took us an unheard of 4 hours to complete the process. Ben was awesome! He was calm (but properly excited) and completely appreciative. Best of the best.

Poor Danny was very overwhelmed as usual but Daddy-O and I agreed at the outset not to stress on the whole conforming to traditions with him. Open a gift then wait. Wonderful. I didn't care if it took him the whole day to open them all. I just wanted him to have a good time. And he did. Santa brought him the moon he'd asked for. He was pretty much done at that point. He just wanted to go back to bed with his moon and listen to music. Such simple, simple needs.

Santa brought Ben a Nintendo DS Lite and no one has had a conversation with him since that has lasted longer than 5 minutes.

Even though we didn't go smaller this year (at least not in quantity) with the gifts, there was certainly more thought put into them and much less fluff under the tree. And that alone made for a high Christmas satisfaction rating.

Most importantly, those of us that could be were together. We all have jobs in this economy... even my 18 year old nephew who is still learning how to be a good employee. With the exception of Grandpa Jess, everyone's health is great (and his could be so much worse). What is not to find pleasure in? Life is good.

I'll leave you with three last pictures that sum up our Christmas day.

Danny felt so crummy from his cold he had to lay down & play with his new fire truck.

Derek spent the whole summer collection Pokemon cards for Ben.
Cut from the same cloth. Look at Derek & see Ben in 10 years.

Danny helping Aunt Marion make Deviled Eggs.


Kathy U from Washington state said...

As an ADD adult, I totally support ADD meds for kids - as long as they are not being used in place of parenting. The only reason I was successful in school was because I am hearing impared. What? Well I had to pay attention to hear what was going on or I missed what was said and I was lost. Was it easy to sit still and listen? - No way but the wrath of my mom if I got in trouble or got poor grades was incentive to me to resist my urge to hum, sing, wiggle, tap my foot or make other irritating noises or shoot spit wads at Greg who was guaranteed to laugh or to keep myself from getting lost in a mind full of thoughts and ideas that constantly zip through my brain.

I didn't start taking ADD meds until whatever year the remake of the movie Titanic came out. I have no idea why there was a ladder in the middle of the lobby at work but when I realized I was on top of it with my arms open wide and proclaiming loudly that I was "queen of the world" I knew I needed help. After all, I am the executive director of a well known national youth development organization! Don't laugh! Okay, it is funny.

I am still amazed at the way I can complete a thought and projects now! My office is filled with my old distractions (doesn't everyone take a break for yard stick golf through the building?) but they don't call to me anymore. I feel like I am in control of my behavior. My mom would have noticed the difference immediately.


Kathy U from Washington state said...

I wanted to comment on Danny being called a name. Growing up I was very frustrated by not being able to hear. I was embarassed to ask what was said (usually more than once) because kids (and even adults) would tease and call me names so I quit asking. Luckily I have always had family and friends who can correctly interpret the look on my face that means I haven't a clue what was said. They automatically repeat if necessary making sure I can see their mouths and understand. I depended on my strengths - I was/am bright, artistic and I have a great sense of humor. I let my strengths define me not my weaknesses.

To compensate with those people who don't know about my hearing problems and if I am too embarrassed to ask what - I become a clown. I am very good at creating a laugh by repeating what I heard (that is kinda close but not really) with a puzzled look on my face. There is laughter then whatever was really said is repeated. Works for me.

Danny will develop a way of coping with blindness. I think you will raise him to be confident about being Danny and he will be able to understand that if someone has and issue with his blindness, it is their issue not his. I think he will find his strengths and he will be proud of himself. That will make a big difference in how he handles mean people.


Imstell said...

I value your opinions on both of these subjects since you are certainly "in the know". ;-) I have always felt sorry for the ADD child whose parents don't "believe" in medication. Not every child can overcome the obstacles by sheer willpower.

Danny is quite comfortable with his blindness at the moment. He has no clue that he's different from others. Yet. But he is a funny, engaging boy and I'm sure he'll get along fine. He just should not have to face name calling at 3!