Holidays. What do they mean to you? As a child, I was always excited for what they had to bring. I would get to eat like a queen, get all of the attention, and be surprised with gifts. It was joyful. After my grandfather passed away, they were never the same. My family became divided. Then, I placed my son up for adoption, and I found a hole in my soul that the holidays only amplified. I would be heartbroken every holiday. Once I began to walk a path of healing, that started to change. I began to realize that holidays are what we make of them. I can be proactive to make sure that my holidays are filled with joy and cheer. Here are some tips to making sure that you have a blessed holiday season as a birth parent:
Focus on the Positive
It’s easy for me to become sad when I think of the holidays; I think this is what a lot of people go through. While the societal standard is for us to be happy and joyful, there are many people who spend the holidays mourning their losses. When I first placed my son for adoption, the holidays were incredibly painful. It probably took me about two years of focused attention to healing before I started to come out of my depression. I was so wrapped up in my loss, that I wasn’t focused on what I had gained in the process. I made the decision for my son, and I thought that I had lost my reason for living. It turns out, I gained a whole new life when my son did. I just had to re-frame my thinking to focus on the positive of what I had gained.
Think of ALL 365 Days
It’s easy to get lost in a moment of sadness and loss. It’s comfortable to sit and wallow in what we don’t have, but it takes courage, strength, and determination to re-focus on the positive of the long-term. I used to find myself focused on missing my son on the holidays. Yet, there are 365 days in a year, and that is what really counts. My gift of adoption gave him a great life for the whole year, every year. It takes courage to face these emotions, but even more resolve to re-focus on the long-term benefits of such a selfless decision as adoption.
Attitude of Gratitude
To turn your thought life from negative to positive there has to be something positive to turn your thoughts to. My suggestion is to do what I have done: focus on what I’m grateful for. I have made gratitude lists to help re-frame my thinking. My gratitude begins at the fact that my son has the necessities that I would have struggled to provide for him. It then extends to the extra things that my son has now. He is involved in sports, excelling in school, has parents who are able to give him more time than I would have been able to, and a design and guide for living that they are able to instill in him. What are you grateful for in the decision that you have made regarding adoption? Not only for your child, but for yourself? For myself, I have had the opportunity to get on my feet financially, heal many emotional wounds, and mature as an adult.
Traditions with a Twist
One of the greatest things that has bothered me over the holidays has to do with practicing holiday traditions. In my family, the focus is on the kids. We take my niece, nephew, and cousins trick-or-treating, we celebrate Christmas morning with all the kids first, and Thanksgiving is about rallying the family to focus on the children. Everything was always about the kids, and not having my son with me to celebrate with everyone used to bother me. I realized that the best way to handle this was to create new traditions. My favorite tradition I have now is a phone call with my son on every holiday. I get to hear what kind of candy he got at Halloween, how much turkey he ate on Thanksgiving, and what Santa brought him for Christmas. It’s my tradition. No matter what activities my family is engaging in, I step away to talk to my son. Then I tell my family what my son is doing on the holidays. While it wasn’t always like this, they now smile and tell me how happy they are that he is having a great time over the holidays.
Society has turned the holidays into scary trick-or-treating, eating lots of Turkey and watching football, and opening presents on Christmas morning. Yet, each of these holidays has an origin. Instead of trying to fit into societal standards, consider what these holidays are really about. Add a new tradition regarding what really started these holidays. Conduct a quick study and get creative with a new tradition that you can hold dear to. If your family doesn’t want to participate, then do it for yourself. Take some time to really appreciate what you have, and celebrate what was originally intended to be celebrated.
So what is it that you want the holidays to represent? Think about what is really important to you and your child throughout the entire year, and celebrate that. There is nothing wrong with being happy. Healing is possible, even around the holidays. Make your holidays special, for life is what we make of it.
Lindsay is a guest blogger for Considering Adoption. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.