As we jump into yet another yuletide season filled with chaos, stress and excitement, we can’t help but take some time to reflect on Christmases past. The good, the bad and the ugly. Thankfully, much of the ugly now rings funny.
But there is always that one year that shines above all others. For us, it was the year our family of four became a family of seven.
It was the most emotional of all Decembers, as we prepared — or thought so — for the arrival of our three, newly adopted children. Although the road to success had begun eight years prior, all of the action had been packed into the four months between Labour Day and Christmas. Our home was gutted, finally receiving the renovation of our dreams, and we were hastily trying to figure out how we would fit five kids into two bedrooms, a la Brady Bunch. We needed extra beds, linens, dishes, kitchen chairs. We had to stock up on food, clothes, toothbrushes, laundry detergent. We had to plan medical appointments, school registrations, family introductions. The triplets were coming!
By the time Christmas Eve arrived, the reality of our circumstance had pretty much sunk in. On my travels that morning, I stopped quickly and grabbed a marked-down, two-foot, pre-lit Christmas tree. I plopped it on a living room table and declared the house decorated; we told the kids they were all getting brothers and sisters for Christmas!
With the confusion that lack of experience provides, we hunkered down for an afternoon of showers, hairdos, clothing changes and shoe exchanges amidst the energy provided by the Christmas music ringing loudly throughout the house. After months of crazy preparation, we were all looking forward to a few days of just kicking back and getting to know each other.
Around two o’clock, I answered a phone call from our adoption worker. “Meet me around the corner,” she whispered in a most conspiratorial tone. I ducked out and found her car parked on a side street. She popped her trunk open and hauled out two large garbage bags, she shoved them into my arms explaining that she was pretty sure I’d had no time to shop for the kids. She hugged me happily, hopped in her car and waved out the window as she drove out of sight.
The following morning, because of the compassion and generosity of a great many complete strangers, our kids awoke to a tiny Charlie Brown Christmas tree buried beneath a pile of presents — two gifts, plus stockings, times five makes a big pile! — each perfectly suited to the child named on the label. There was no one to thank. But that morning, and every Christmas morning since, I’ve been overwhelmed by the memory of joy, the spirit of giving, and the power of family. To anyone who has ever donated an unwrapped toy or gift at Christmas, on behalf of those of us who have been on the receiving end of your generosity, I offer my heartfelt gratitude. To you it was a worthwhile donation to some anonymous cause. For us, it was the magic of Christmas!
Hamilton native Alexandra Brown is the married mother of five and founder of RomanticShorts.com. If you would like to write in this space, call editor Gord Bowes at 905-664-8800 ext. 335.