Another week down, and just another week to go. Recapping the highlights in seven.
1. On Friday I took the girls shopping for Christmas dresses at Burlington Coat Factory. Lisa picked out at least seven dresses and eagerly tried on each one and paraded around the dressing area for Addie, Edie and I to see. I was afraid she thought she would be getting all the dresses. But when Addie, Edie and I each narrowed down our selection, I pointed to Lisa’s dresses and held up one finger. She shrugged as if to indicate she didn’t know what she wanted, before quickly changing her mind and picking out a frilly dress with gold sequins sewn into the bodice. I realized I didn’t have any dress shoes for her, and luckily upon pursuing the kids shoe aisle, we found gold glitter shoes…and then a matching gold headband. As soon as we got home, Lisa put on the shoes and dress and wore it the rest of the day. She would’ve worn it the next day too had I not managed to convey it was a Christmas dress, to be worn to Mass on Sunday. We were told in our training that our host children might not show appreciation or gratitude for the things we give them, and while she never mentioned thank you, the joy in her face every time she puts on that dress, and how she still runs to show me, puts a big grin on my face.
2. On Christmas Eve we went to the annual open house of some good friends. The event had been marked on my calendar since the beginning of the month, before we knew that my friend’s husband would pass away suddenly. So, it was bittersweet. Bart and Lisa only know we went somewhere with lots of good food and Disney movies. Tony and I visited while feeling our friend’s absence keenly. We were keeping with tradition, but yet starting anew. Please continue to pray for the soul of our friend and for his widow and six children.
3. After getting everyone down from their sugar high and sending them to bed, I finally started wrapping presents. You know, all the presents I’d left in my husband’s car, the one that died while he was at work an hour away? We got it towed back to the house for me to wrap everything in time for Christmas. And I was only up until 1:30 a.m. doing so! Even with a more modest Christmas, three gifts for nine people, plus stockings, is a big production. I was glad when everyone slept in on Christmas morning
4. CHRISTMAS! I didn’t have to stumble downstairs until 7:30 a.m.! And Tony had the coffee ready! Bart, who usually sleeps in, was one of the first awake and he was wide-eyed at the array of presents, designated by a stocking with his name. As he opened them, he put the hand knit slippers on his feet immediately, and pulled the fleece jacket over his head as soon as it was out of the bag too. And while he loved the gifts from Tony and I, just as exciting were all the small gifts the other kids had purchased for him. (Thank you Dollar Tree!) Lisa opened up an Elsa doll and couldn’t get her out of the packaging fast enough. She pulled a pair of new leggings on under her nightgown. Everyone was so happy, even my five kids, with three simple items. Maybe my kids were content knowing more presents are coming from grandparents, but for the day, there was no complaints or wondering “where the rest of it was.” Everyone played with and contentedly shared the items they had with little bickering, and it was great.
5. THE BEACH! One of the coolest things was standing on the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ and typing in ‘Atlantic Ocean’ into the Google Translate app, and watching Bart and Lisa’s faces as they realized where we were. Despite cloudy weather on Monday, the kids excitedly raced along the beach collecting shells, soaking their shoes in the cold water, and ultimately, running barefoot in the sand, pant legs rolled up to avoid the surf. If we get another nice day next week, we might head back, they had so much fun. We also visited the arcade and ate boardwalk pizza (and yes, they put ketchup on that too.)
6. Wednesday evening we all watched Addie fence at her fencing school’s annual holiday potluck and in-house tournament. Even though Bart doesn’t understand that much English (and heck, I still don’t understand all the fencing terminology), he knew when she won a match and excitedly showed me the score on his hands and cheered “Go Addie!” I hope having the largest cheering section in attendance wasn’t too nerve-wracking for her.
7. So yes, it’s been a busy week. We’ve done lots of fun stuff, celebrated with large meals, candy and cookies. Admittedly, there’s been some more meltdowns and tantrums. And it’s hard for my kids to understand why Bart and Lisa don’t always follow the rules, why they can’t play nice, and why we can’t seem to make them listen the first time. Edie said in a moment of frustration to me yesterday, “You’ve raised five kids! Why can’t you teach them to behave?!” Even as Tony and I try to calmly explain why Bart and Lisa act the way they do, and why we have to treat them the way we do, I know it’s hard for my kids to remember these things when confronted with behavior that annoys, angers or upsets them. It can be challenging for me, and I’m the adult!
It’s driven home the fact that doing charity and living the Gospel doesn’t always give you a warm fuzzy feeling. So often, when we help others, it’s through activities that make us feel good (putting money in the collection plate, donating food to a food pantry, participating in a walkathon,etc.). We know our actions will help someone and we’re happy to help. However, there is a lot of work that needs to be done to help people that doesn’t feel good and, in fact, is pretty crappy at times. Now, hosting orphans isn’t crappy. It’s great, but there’s lots of times don’t feel great; I feel angry, frustrated, tired, and desperate to be somewhere quiet. But I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone in the name of charity. My kids, are struggling to understand this idea, and that’s okay, they’re young, but I hope this experience shows them that they can do hard, difficult things to help other people if that’s what God calls them to do.
I hope you and yours are enjoying the Christmas season! Write your week down in seven, then link it up below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can enjoy the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!