We are the Grinch family. The older I get the more I become green and fuzzy. Christmas time was always one of my favorite times of year, and in some respects it still is, but in these last few years it has become one of the hardest times of the year for us. Everything is so busy. School plays, musicals, parties at school, parties at daycare, family gatherings, buying presents when nobody really needs anything and you can’t figure out what to get, parties for gym class, and on and on and on. Everything is pulling for your time and what was originally time away from work and school has become a bigger stressor in itself. Something we never get during normal days? Downtime with just our family. Time to play with the boys and make messes. Time to color and paint and dance with Hayden. Time to jump around and make funny faces and spin to get Harper laughing and talking. We don’t get those big family fun times during the normal work and school weeks, so the Christmas break would be the perfect time to do all of that. But that’s not what happens, because all the things I mentioned before come raining down on you as new time filling obligations. It’s not that we don’t or can’t enjoy those kinds of things, it’s just that we don’t need 50 of them. Every get together is a stressor to me because I’m an introvert and being outgoing completely exhausts me. Each one is also a painful reminder as we see little kids up running around and talking, all younger than Harper, and we have that sadness return over what she would be like doing the same thing. Pouring all this time into these events that are difficult for us just doesn’t feel value added to the growth of my family. Save some time for family. Save some time to have nothing scheduled at all just to sit around and be with each other. I don’t remember what it feels like to be in a room with just the 6 of us being us. That should be a comfortable feeling, not a rare one you have trouble recalling. I don’t know how to make that happen. It’s not like we want to just hide from the world, but we would like to make our own appearances instead of feeling like we are dragged by the collar from our bubble every time we sit down.
There are still more ways we get Grinchy during the holidays. We get all these Christmas cards each year, and each year we have that same discussion with each other without really saying a word, "Do we put them up on on display in the little card holder, or do we just throw them away?" Why is that even a question? Because we see all these perfect little families with kids sitting in Santa’s lap and everyone is smiling and all put together. Another reminder of what our family isn’t, that poor little Harp can’t can’t even sit up to be in Santa’s lap, or smile on command, or even know what’s going on. I don’t hate that for me, because if you know me you know how very little I care what other people think about me. “Oh what a great Christmas card of your family Zach!” is not something that would fill me with pride or cheer or whatever else. In fact, if we could take a nice card quality picture I’d probably complain about having to do it. It’s not like the boys would ever sit still and smile anyways. No, I hate it for her. That she doesn’t get to experience that wonder and anticipation of running to the tree on Christmas morning to open presents (don’t hit me with the Christmas should be about Jesus lecture, let the kids have some fun!). It will take a different approach to excite her and those big eyes that take everything in. And I guess for that I shouldn’t complain. She does look at the world around her and take it in. She is able to find happiness in the stimulus she sees. She may never get to ride that new bike, or brush that Barbie’s hair, or color with a big 64 box of crayons, but she will find her own ways to enjoy the Christmas time. The lights, the music, the fireplace, things she probably appreciates more than all the rest of us do. So yeah, we will never be a typical family sending out that Christmas card for you to put on the fridge. It’s not that we didn’t send you one, it’s that we just flat didn’t do them. And, I don’t want to scare people off from sending us their cards. I’m sure you’re asking yourself already, was this year a ‘keep them’ year or ‘throw them away’ year for us? I’ll never tell! We do enjoy seeing all of our friends and how beautiful the families are. We aren’t of the mindset that if we can’t have a perfect family Christmas card then nobody should. That kind of mentality drives me nuts. People are unable to have something or experience something so they feel everyone should be restricted from that thing. Life doesn’t and shouldn’t be the same experience for everyone. There’s a lot of things we won’t be able to do with Harper that other families will, but there are so many things we do get to experience through her that nobody else will understand. I would never want to use our situation to guilt someone else over what they do, because we get the blessing of special little moments in the storm that others won’t have the opportunity to ever see. I kinda feel like I just talked out of the other side of my mouth complaining about Christmas cards and then saying I wouldn’t want to guilt anyone out of doing something. I promise we aren’t trying to make you feel bad for your cards! We are just weird and quirky and trying to deal with stuff the best we can. We are human, and while we would love to handle everything perfectly like you would script it out on paper, it’s not going to happen. We just have to do the best we can and hope everyone around us has patience and forgiveness for when we don’t fit the mold.