By Clay E. Fears, III
Christmas memories have always been good for us. Growing up in families who loved to decorate and celebrate, home was filled with cheer and light. The backdrop of the story of the Christ child combined with Mr. Dickens tales of Christmas Past, Present, and Future to create a comforting celebration. Presents seemed always to be abundant, and while you never got everything you wanted, there was always enough.
We all grow up and maybe perspective changes; the desire to be a giver develops. The joy of wonder and amazement, the anticipation and fullness the Christmas Season promises, is seen with new eyes.
What a blessing when you get to see the wonder of Christmas in a child’s face. Little ones who are drawn to twinkling lights, beautiful ribbons, ornaments, and the comfort of family traditions.
Our first Christmas as a family of four had those characteristics. Two new daughters drawn to the ten trees full of lights that Beth had set up throughout our home. Nativity stories and Christmas singing shared at Church and during car rides. Wrapped presents began taking their place under the “Big Tree” in the Great Room. Even at their ages, we watched the girls’ excitement grow, our new family creating our own traditions built on the old traditions.
Home made Cookies, fresh out of the oven filled the house with great smells. We counted down days, doing the typical parent things; adding last minute presents and filling stockings. Late at night, with the girls asleep, we talked about how to make sure this first Christmas was special and stressed about overdoing the holiday.
The 23rd of December, we had one last important task to complete. We dressed up just a little, packed the girls into our van, and headed to town. Time to take a step that none of our previous Christmases included. A courthouse had never been a part of our holiday celebration. This day, it was becoming a very important part of all of us. Among certain families, it’s known as “Gothcha Day”; the day adoption becomes official. Fifteen minutes in a Judge’s chambers and it was done. Two young ladies entered our family officially, at the tender ages of Eleven and Thirteen, bringing their own Christmases Past and Present.
Christmas morning that year was full of new experiences for all of us. The oversized Noel key that had been left carefully on the outside of the front door, just in case Santa needed it, was found hanging from the doorknob inside the front door. Only crumbs were left of the Christmas cookies set out the night before and the coffee cup with the Caramel Coffee had been emptied; we had provided coffee thinking the Man in Red might be needing a quick caffeine shot to get him thru the rest of his evening. The girls’ gifts were wrapped and gathered in huge cloth Santa bags, red and green; one that said, “Santa was here”, the other a now more meaningful “Merry Christmas”. The room was overflowing with packages to be unwrapped.
At first, the girls seemed stunned, overwhelmed, hesitant. We gently asked, “is everything ok?”, wanting this first Christmas to be extra special. They had bravely agreed to bring all their hopes and maybe even disappointment from many years our way. Now the four of us were taking those first steps to making memories together. That worry unique to parents, that nagging question “did I do it right, are we moving this forward the best way for our kids?”, that worry sure comes to parents quick. The girls silence was concerning. Finally, a softly spoken response from our youngest broke the tension: “This is the best Christmas ever!” Well, yes it was and is.