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Merry Christmas?

Chad Dykstra - 2010-12-26
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'Tis the season for presents and happy children...or maybe screaming ones.  Christmas was actually very difficult for our family - definitely not the "perfect Christmas" that many people imagine.  Yesterday was one of the hardest, if not the hardest, day we have had so far.

I should start by saying that in general, we try not to overdo gifts at Christmas.  We try to keep the holidays low-key and low-stress.  To be completely honest, I didn't get Lora a single present this year.  Now don't think I'm some sort of monster - she didn't get me anything either!  Well, OK...I did let her buy some used silverware last week on eBay, if you count that.  Gift giving just isn't something that either of us put a lot of value in.  We already have so much "stuff" and we'd rather use that money for something more fulfilling than filling our house with more stuff we really don't need. 

We tried to keep it even smaller this year knowing that it may be difficult for the boys to grasp such a concept as the American celebration of Christmas.  Even with trying to keep it to just a very few gifts, we've had a very difficult time with the boys and presents.  The first present they opened was a "ma-kee-nah" - or a car for those who don't speak Amharic.  From then on, they expected two things.  One, that every present they saw was a ma-kee-nah.  Two, that every one of them was most definitely theirs, even if we insisted otherwise.  While most households on Christmas morning are probably filled with sounds of laughter, happiness, and screams of delight, ours was filled with children ripping presents out of hands and throwing themselves down on the floor in a tantrum.  Most of the day was filled with kicking, fighting, screaming, toy throwing, and more tantrums.  Merry Christmas!  We do have the entire episode on video.  I thought about posting it to give everyone a good laugh at our misfortune, but we decided it wouldn't be fair to the boys.  We decided instead to bust it out at their high school graduations.  :)

Lora and I were talking last night after the kids finally went to bed (read: after I dragged them to their bedroom screaming then laid with them until they fell asleep).  The thought crossed both of our minds at times yesterday that we wished the boys were not home for Christmas.  This doesn't mean that we aren't glad they are home...because for sure, we are.  We feel for the families who are still waiting and know how hard it would be if they were not yet home.  What it means that we wish Christmas had been a month ago.  That our lavish American celebration of excess would have already been behind us, and that we could go for months and months without any gift giving holidays.  That we would have a few birthdays in there where a few presents are given to an individual child so they could get the ropes of how things work, and after the language barrier is far behind us.  That we didn't have to submit these children to such a thing so close to their arrival at home.  When it was all said and done, Lora and I just crashed on the couch in a collective sigh.  We turned on the TV and watched Transformers.  What better movie to watch; after all, when all you want to do is forget about Christmas?

We're hanging in there, though, and today has been more normal (save for it starting at 5:30 due to a bedwetting "incident").  Note the emphasis on normal, which is to say that normal is a relative term at this point in our lives.  I took Abi to church this morning, so I was able to get out of the house.  After lunch, I took all the kids to the park to give Lora a little time off.  We had fun playing and swinging, and all of us ran a lap around the track to burn some energy, stopping for a few photo-ops along the way.  Stay tuned for those pictures to be posted.  :)

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Posted by stacey klein on 2010-12-29

HI Lora!

Praying right now for you guys! I remember those difficult first days settling in as a new family unit! It will get better! I sit here almost 1 year home and when I look back at how far we have come it is amazing!

love and hugs

Jeff, Stacey and the "fab five"

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