why I put my tree up in mid-november

That's right. I'm totally THAT PERSON this year.

I realize it is obnoxious.  I hate THAT PERSON every other Christmas season.  But listen . . . this year?  Is the first time in a really long time that our family is complete.  Together.  No ambiguity hanging over our heads.  No family member living in a boy's home in another country.  No angst over how we would split up our holidays so we could spend time with our son who lived in another country.  No words like "bittersweet" to mask the total suckage of the holiday season for the Howerton set.

The holidays can be a hard time with there are family issues.  We have spent a lot of holidays over the past ten years being tentative.  And by tentative, I mean gritting our teeth and doing the bare minimum to seem like functioning, polite adults.  We've spent Christmases grieving over not being parents, or wondering if THIS would be the pregnancy that made it to full term.  We spent years wondering if Jafta would be a permanent member of the family, or just a foster child whose face joined ours in several years of holiday cards.  And then, we had three years of knowing Kembe was our son, but not knowing when he would come home.

Well, he's here, dammit.  So forgive us.  But we're going big.

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The kids helped me put up the tree on Thursday.  On Friday, we hosted a little dinner party for our neighbors (and friends). It's a tradition we started almost a decade ago.  Last year, we were feeling sour and we skipped it.  Then we regretted it, because it felt sad to miss out on this special time with friends.  So we decided, despite the total chaos, that we were hosting this year.  I'm so glad we did.

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Yeah, that's right.  I spray painted the pumpkins gold.  And I made a Christmas painting to hang by the tree. And I discovered how to make an holiday playlist on Pandora:

Sufjan Stevens (Holiday) + Sara Groves (Holiday) + Nora Jones (Holiday) = Awesome.

Today, we took the kids to Disneyland to see the holiday decorations. 

I know.  I just don't know what's come over me.  But I know this:  I'm feeling content, and I'm having fun.  And so is Kembe.

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