It has been 12 years since we have had a Christmas celebration (well really any holiday celebration) without incident. This year December 25, 2015 was the year that we were incident free. For this I am praising the Lord!
For those of you not understanding what I mean by an incident free holiday, let me explain. In the midst of a time full of wonder and excitement, it has been almost every parent's experience that our small ones are so full of themselves that they have some behavioral problems. We experience this exponentially, especially at Christmas, as this holiday brings with it a high level of anxiety, and large dose of unmet expectations, and a pile of outwardly ugly behaviors. Not because there are many dwarfs, but because many of the dwarfs have special needs. The unique way that they are wired causes them to ask for nothing that they really want, or to ask for complete and absolutely ridiculously out of this world gifts. As if by asking on either end of the spectrum, will produce in us the parents this innate ability to mind read and get them what they really wanted but did not ask for, or somehow there really is a magical short fat man in a red suit that will make all their wildest dreams come true.
Top this by deviating from a regular schedule of sleep, wake, eat, school and church activities, in combination with many social requirements that they already struggle with often makes the days leading to Christmas and the day of Christmas less than joy filled. In years past we have had children who have thrown gifts, cried because they did not want a certain thing, stare blankly at the items they received without sharing any emotion regarding the gift, no matter how perfect, thoughtful, or have been so overwhelmed by a gift the sibling got that they did not that they wrecked the gift opening experience for everyone. We have administered time outs. We have had to take gifts. Yes, even attempted bribes and bartering skills to regain calm. Many times one or more of the dwarfs had to be sent out of the room so that gift opening could continue without them. Once they were able to get themselves back under control, they would then return to the room to finish opening gifts with the other family members or alone, depending on the length and severity of the meltdown.
This year we got through the entire day of Christmas without a single meltdown. (We are not going to discuss the day before, or the days after...at least not in this post.) As I sit and ponder the wonderful day, I would like to think that it is the Prince and I and our amazing parenting skills that got the dwarfs to this milestone, however I know that realistically, maturity may finally be weighing in on our side.
Could it have been that what helped was that for the first time, this year, everyone had money of their own with which to gift their siblings and parents (and we did not make participation optional). This year there was an excitement among the dwarfs to share that "perfect" gift that they labored over to select and counted pennies to purchase. In using their own monies, and laboring over selecting the perfect gift, I would like to hope that they also learned another valuable lesson about how much work and money goes into the Christmas gift exchange and about the excitement leading up to it sharing with someone your efforts.
Maybe it was the huge inflatable obstacle course that our eldest dwarf rented for the day. This allowed anyone that was feeling a bit antsy to run outside, throw down a challenge and race through the course. Or just spend a few minutes alone, going through the course forward and backwards to blow off some steam.
Perhaps the Prince and I have finally gotten through to the dwarfs regarding what is appropriate to ask for as a gift. Since we now also have them write their lists, if there are items that are not ever going to be in my budget for them or me (super bowl tickets, a Bugatti) we can begin damage control weeks in advance, hence reducing the disappointment factor when the wrapping paper starts to fly. Additionally, if we look at a list that is just a request for 3 different kinds of chap sticks, and we can sit and discuss what other things they may be interested in for Christmas, hence helping them create a list that is reasonable and obtainable.
Whatever the reason, we are rejoicing in the kingdom this year about the wonderful day that was had by one and all. It seems that everyone got at least one surprise item, and this year the Prince and I worked really hard to get that "one" had to have item for each dwarf. We rested, we ate well, we enjoyed each other's company and that has not happened in the kingdom on a holiday, let alone Christmas day in a very long time...
I suppose we will know in 361 days if we can repeat the day with such success, but in the meantime...
Our 2015 Christmas Miracle and I am so glad that I did not have to make this one up!