Our Christmas

New fuzzy socks

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Ours exceeded our expectations in nearly every way; things did not go as planned, but we had a joyful day as a family.

Some special friends joined us for dinner on Christmas Eve which was followed by a spontaneous Christmas pageant.

Joseph and Mary – note the flashlight which nearly made Baby Jesus “glow”

The wise men brought gifts in Mason jars.

A shepherd with a sheep who made exuberant sheep sounds.

I haven’t had a chance to write about it, but over the last couple of weeks, as Christmas grew closer, Dimples began to struggle more and more. I know her well enough now that I could see her anxiety increasing and her mind spinning. Her hopes were growing so high and her fears were growing at the same rate. It is hard to explain, but she was churned up, worried, and very unsettled.

I tried to help her by talking her through what was going to happen on Christmas. First thing in the morning, there would be a stocking filled with small gifts waiting for each child. We would all gather by the tree and open stockings. Then we would have breakfast and finish our Advent readings. After breakfast we would gather in the family room again and open presents one at a time. There would be two gifts for each child, plus one from a brother or sister, and one from the grandparents. These discussions reminded me of her first weeks at home when every afternoon she would list out the events for the rest of day, “Dinner, pajamas, brush teeth, book, prayers, sleep”. It gave her a measure of control if she knew what to expect. Despite my recent efforts, Dimples’ anxiety was driving her emotions, which were becoming increasingly volatile and challenging. Between Dimples and Honeybee, I was worn out with intense parenting.

For a year Dimples had been asking for an American Girl doll, which (if you don’t know) is a very expensive but also very nice doll. Sweet Pea and Mimi each had one when they were young, Ladybug got one for her ninth birthday, and Honeybee got one on her tenth. Dimples and Boo were told that they had to be older before they could get their special dolls, but in all honesty, I wanted them to have one so the four girls could enjoy playing together before the older two’s interest began to wane. With much planning, budget-shifting, and a little bit of fretting, I ordered dolls for Dimples and Boo. They had been poring over the catalog for a year and knew exactly which ones they wanted. Dimples wanted Ruthie, because she came with a watch and a purple dress. Boo wanted Josefina because she had long, dark hair and earrings. I was pretty sure that these gifts were going to be the hit of Christmas morning, but I also feared that somehow, some way, Dimples was not going to be happy.

The kids were all up late on Christmas Eve, so we told them that they could not get up until 8:00 – torture, I know. At 7:15 I woke up to their excited voices and I’ll admit, I had a bit of trepidation. I woke Russ and told him that I thought we had better be proactive and get ready for the day before the kids were up. By 8:00 we were in the family room, coffee in the French press, the oven heating for the breakfast casserole, and the stockings lined up on the sofa. I said a few quick prayers as the kids flew down the stairs. Opening stockings went well. Honeybee was delighted with everything and kept thanking us, which was very sweet. Dimples was very vigilant, making sure that the other girls had the same number of gifts and pieces of candy, but all in all, she was calm.

Thirteen stockings

Breakfast was a comedy of errors. On Christmas Eve I realized that I had put the large package of sausages in a friend’s freezer, when we were attempting to make space for a side of beef. Oh well, we could make do without them. On Christmas morning the cinnamon pull-apart looked good, until it began to rise at such an alarming rate that chunks of it were falling to the bottom of the oven necessitating the opening of window and running the vent on high. Then the oven malfunctioned and turned itself off, so although it said it was 350 degrees, it was actually only 250 degrees, leaving the brunch casserole quite soupy. At this point we decided to let the kids all open one small gift.

Honeybee was delighted with her Sleeping Beauty
dress – here are my three princesses.

Dimples and Boo with their very special dolls

When we checked the casserole again, it was getting closer, but still not done, so we gathered in the living room to watch “The Little Drummer Boy”. By the end of the show, breakfast was finally ready! While we ate we had our final Advent readings and placed the nativity piece on our Advent wall hanging. Then we quickly cleaned up and began opening gifts. To my great happiness, Honeybee loved her Sleeping Beauty dress and wore it until she went to bed last night. Dimples and Boo were thrilled with their dolls. Ladybug loved her cloak for her doll and a vest for her. The boys loved their snowboarding goggles and clothes. The older girls loved their clothes. Two gifts didn’t arrive in time due to the snow, but it didn’t seem to matter. We were all relaxed and happy.

Samuel probably won’t be happy that I shared this photo, but he is getting his braces off on the 30th, so we can take one last good look.

My day ended with a walk down the driveway, along with Russ and Sweet Pea, to admire the snow and the lights on our porch. Then Sweet Pea and Mimi started knitting hats while I worked on finishing the binding on a quilt that I began for Russ seventeen years ago – I finally gave it to him for Christmas. Just when I think I might never get anything done – I prove myself wrong!

And if you are wondering how the Cornflake Sundaes were for Christmas Eve breakfast…

…they were a hit!

I loved the responses about Christmas traditions! I’ll post them tomorrow.


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Signe
    December 26, 2008

    I almost felt like I was there. I’m glad it was a wonderful day. I think we will try the cornflake sundaes next year.

    Merry Christmas

  2. christall
    December 27, 2008

    If it is any consolation I woke up early on Christmas morning to put our breakfast casserole in the oven. My father-in-law was coming over for breakfast and gifts so I wanted everything to be just right… I waited for the oven to pre-heat, and waited, and waited…

    After about 20 minutes I opened the oven to find that the bottom element had cracked and then, in the pre-heating process, had fused itself to the bottom of the oven.

    Not to be deterred I broiled our casserole to a well-done, crunchy finish, which of course I will never live down!

    But the day was lovely anyhow – but I’m a bit nervous about the bill for a new stove!

    Glad you had a wonderful day.


  3. the ewings
    December 28, 2008

    Loved hearing about your day! Sounds like home to me! You are such a wonderful Mother. Really would love to meet you in person! Happy New Year!

  4. shell
    December 28, 2008

    Thanks for taking the time to share your day!!! Joe has been here 3 Christmas’s now and I STILL feel he needs the play by play. 🙂


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