Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A Year To Remember

It seems hard to believe that it's already time to turn the calendar over to another new year. But even though I put the 2017 calendar in the trash can, it was a great chance to reflect on the joys of the past year, especially the holiday season.

Every year after Thanksgiving, I tell myself that I am not going to get stressed out about the holidays. And every year that's something I fail at. This year was no different.

Matching family Christmas pajamas this year.
We were blessed to celebrate Thanksgiving with both of our families, since both sets live in Montgomery County. It's always so nice to share meals and enjoy being together.

But it wasn't long after that my panic started to set in. For some reason, the holidays, Christmas in particular, tend to be very hard for me. Though I love to give gifts and I LOVE to shop, it's hard to walk past aisles of Barbies, games and puzzles and not be able to put it all under the tree for Grace.

Meeting Santa at the Hutson Christmas.
And I begin to let some sadness about INAD creep into my heart. I wish Grace could be excited for Santa and create a list of things she would love to find under her Christmas tree. I would love to hear her sing some of my favorite Christmas songs. This year, "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" would have been most appropriate. But most of all, the sadness creeps in not knowing how many Christmases I have left to celebrate with her.  Some days, it takes all I have to go to family Christmas events with a smile, wishing in my heart things were different.

Grace was an angel in the church's Christmas program.
Lighting the Advent candle at church.
But despite some sadness on my part, we generally had a great time celebrating with extended family in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas, and then with our immediate family during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  I loved watching Charley interact with her cousins, though I'm pretty sure she will be trying to boss them all around by next Christmas.

Our Minion gingerbread house looks almost good enough to eat!
Kyle and I built our traditional gingerbread house with the girls at home. This year's theme was Minions, and it was tough to keep Charley from putting all the small decorations in her mouth. It's honestly hard to keep Charley out of most things.

Decorating the tree with our favorite girls.
One of my favorite moments this Christmas season was lighting the Advent candle with my Kyle, Grace and Charley at church on the morning of Christmas Eve. Grace and I read the prayer and scripture together and Kyle and Charley did their best not to set the church on fire, which is always a blessing.

Christmas with the Armour cousins and Grandma Virginia.
But it was after church for the second time on Christmas Eve that my heart finally found its happiness.  After checking out some Christmas lights and luminaries, we headed home to open presents with the girls. And we managed to catch the last hour of "It's a Wonderful Life." It's always one of my favorite Christmas movies, and I can't help but tear up every time Harry Bailey toasts his brother, George, "the richest man in Bedford Falls."

The girls Christmas portrait from our friend, Ken Meade.
As I snuggled Charley sound asleep in my lap, I realized that we really do have a pretty wonderful life. If I could make Grace better, I would do it in a heartbeat, no matter the cost. But the long and short of it is, that I can't. I can't change the fact that Grace has INAD, or that it's devastating the way it steals everything from her little body.

Christmas with the Galer family.
Christmas with the Herschelman family.
But here's what I can do. I can change my attitude about it. Most of the time, Kyle and I do keep a pretty positive outlook on our situation, but every so often that sadness creeps in and tries to steal my joy, especially around the holidays. For me, the best thing is just to keep going. Just to attend family Christmas events, take Grace and Charley to see Santa (even if Grace doesn't understand), build a gingerbread house, even if Grace can't help. And genuinely live our lives as if everything was normal. Sometimes we have to modify our events so that Grace can be part of it, but I wouldn't have that any other way.

Ringing in the new year with these cute kiddos!
This year, we had the opportunity to ring in the new year with five other families and a total of 13 children. Yes, the adults found out we were outnumbered this year, and we blame Charley. But together we celebrated all the things that are good about life, friendship and family. And when you have so many things to be grateful for, it really is a pretty wonderful life.


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