That’s how I feel around this time of year: Christmas, New Year, Birthday – boom!
We’ve read a lot about how adoptive children struggle with the festive season. For traumatised children, the bang of crackers, nighttime ‘visits from Santa’, drinking alcohol and unexpected guests can prove overwhelming, not to mention terrifying. Emotions are often heightened which can trigger memories of past unhappy events; unstructured days and different mealtimes can all prove too much. People advise steering clear of turkey and sticking with favourites – anything to maintain a sense of stability.
Attachment Disorder can present similarly to Autism and we’ve heard from families who wrap presents in clingfilm, because the stress of uncertainty is too much. Decorations, lights and music can be a sensory processing nightmare – essentially it’s a car crash waiting to happen and we haven’t even touched upon New Year yet!
This Christmas may well have been our last sans small people. That’s a sobering thought. As I mentioned previously, our Christmas’ are currently spent in Wales and we have yet to spend a Christmas in our own home. I cannot wait to begin our own traditions, Cara loves Christmas and we both have opinions on how the season should be celebrated – neither of us are Christian, but we celebrate love and family. We’d like a home filled with games, fun and laughter rather than avalanche of plastic toys* We cant wait to hang stockings on the fireplace, leave a carrot for Rudolph and all of the trappings which make Christmas magical as a child.
Okay, Okay – we’re not really that naive, we expect tears, meltdowns, retributions, flying sprouts…after all, what is Christmas without a festive fallout. But whatever happens, it will be ours. Our family, our Christmas.
I hope beyond hope that one day our children feel as if they are part of our family, because I’ve spent 18 years sitting on the periphery of other people’s. Other people’s traditions, drunken aunts, obnoxious uncles, deaf grandmas, dry turkey, awkward silences and blazing rows. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some wonderful Christmas’ with incredible people, but I’ve always felt like an outsider: a token guest/girlfriend and I don’t want that for our children, or for me anymore.
My birthday is in early January, traditionally on the day schools go back (I started school on my 5th Birthday). As a child I celebrated my half Birthday in June, which took the pressure off my parents a little. As an adult this seems unnecessary and pretentious, it does, however, mean that people are generally broke, partied out and partaking in ‘Dry January’, ‘Veganuary’ or some equally restrictive ‘…ary’
This year was entirely different and my amazing Cara is to thank.
Completely unbeknownst to me, she got in touch with all of my favorite people and invited them to dinner. And they came. My lovely, lovely friends came to see me. In January. I was completely overwhelmed and cried like Gwyneth Paltrow on awards night, but wider.
I’ve always been terrified of asking people to do things for my Birthday, because I’m frightened they won’t come: it feels greedy and wanton to demand another celebration so soon after Christmas and New Year. But as I looked around the table, I realised that they’ve always been there when I needed them; they’ve been there on lonely Christmas’, bereavements, in the wake of break ups and when I’ve been a complete idiot, so I should probably stop doing them the injustice of expecting them not to show up. I’m a lucky girl (old woman).
Now we’re back to work and normality. We were supposed to begin our home study sessions this week, but frustratingly we’re still waiting on a couple of references (how many times can you chase an ex??), but it’s okay, we’ll get there. 2019 is going to be our year.
*Whilst I harbour images of meaningful hand crafted gifts, and lovingly whittled wooden gender neutral toys, I recognise that in reality we are going to be elbow deep in AAA batteries and joyous gaudy tat!