I remember last year in December, when Arie was home just a couple weeks, one of our friends gave him his very first gift. The mom gave the gift to her toddler daughter who placed it in front of Arie: a brightly colored gift bag with crinkly tissue paper sticking out the top. Arie was sitting on the floor of our living room, gift bag placed before him with great anticipation. The other mom and I along with that sweet little girl all watched in anticipation, waiting for Arie to open the gift.
He looked down at the gift bag then up at our expectant faces then down at the gift bag again... and burst into tears! I knew it was his first gift, but somehow I failed to realize he would had no idea what he was supposed to do when we put it in front of him!
This Christmas that boy who didn't know how to open a gift was nowhere to be found. In his place was a gleeful little boy who insisted on "helping" everyone else tear off wrapping paper and open their gifts. It is so much fun to give this little boy gifts because he delights in everything he gets. From the first present he opened on Christmas Eve to the last gift he got at my family's celebration on the 28th, I shot picture after picture of his enormous smiles, sparkling eyes, and little excited clenched fists. Amazingly, it never got old. For any of us!
John and I gave Arie a book, a stuffed alligator, and a marble run for Christmas. He spend all of October and most of November talking about alligators, but of course as soon as John ordered the little stuffy online, we didn't hear one word about the creature! Thankfully, his alligator passion has been reignited and this reptile has already been to Ontario and back again with us, clutched between Arie's little fingers.
The marble run has also been a hit, although mama and papa have spent more time than anticipated helping to build and "fix" it for our little man! Secretly, we both love playing with it too. Ha!
While we of course love watching our little boy showered with all the fun and excitement that comes with getting gifts at Christmas John and I (like most parents) also wanted to be intentional about combating the potential entitlement/spoiling effects of Christmas. Leading up to Christmas we talked frequently about both the religious meaning (Jesus birth) and the gift giving. My mantra on repeat through December was, "At Christmas we give each other gifts to celebrate Jesus' birth!" On Christmas morning I woke Arie up and told him, "Jesus is born!" Much to my heart's delight, he repeated that line to me throughout the day. "Mama- Jesus born!"
In order to include Arie on the gift-giving side of Christmas, we made a number of our gifts with him. Now, I'm not super crafty so don't get any pinteresty images in your mind. What we did was bring him pottery painting and screen printing to make tshirts. Not only did we have a blast actually doing these things, but we loved giving our family members little gifts with great sentiment. We hope they will wear their "dumpty umpty" shirts and drink from their ugly mugs or use their splotchy painted spoon rests with warm fuzzies all year long.
|Spoon rest made with love and lots of zest by Arie.|
|My mom is the best gift reactor, next to Arie.|
|My mom sewed this puppet theatre! How cute is it?!|
|With Grampi and his uncles, all wearing their Arie-made "dumpty-umpty!" shirts.|
|Canada mittens for all!|
As I sat beside a handful of different Christmas trees this December, surrounded by the warmth and love of different friends and family members, I thought back through my journey to motherhood.
Four Christmases ago I sat there thinking, "Next year I will either be pregnant or have a baby in my arms at Christmas!" Hopeful and longing.
Three Christmases ago John and I sat beside the tree and cried as we received a number of generous donations toward our adoption expenses. Humbled and grateful.
Two Christmases ago we celebrated the season for the first time with our son in our arms. Joy-filled.
This Christmas I buoyed between the great joy of my son and the same hopeful longing I felt four Christmases ago- praying that next year I will have gifts for two little ones under my tree.
This verse from James 1 has been my theme: "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
The shadows have certainly shifted for me over the past four years, but in both dark and in light I have been the recipient of so many good gifts from my heavenly Father. Though my life changes and my faith falters or grows, God remains ever present and faithful. I look at the most precious gift of my son this Christmas and as I watch him delight in the love of his family, I ask God for a greater faith: one that looks to His faithfulness in four Christmases past and trusts in his purpose and plan for those that wait before me.