OART 21: The Most Wonderful Time

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don’t need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you’re thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points–please feel free to adapt or expand on them.

Last year we wrote about the holiday season in general. This year, inspired by a recent post by Claud, I thought we could focus in on traditions.

How do open adoption and holiday traditions intersect in your life?

My mother wants to send Cricket an advent calendar. Oh, she knows that she can’t—but I secretly wish that she could. While my mother surely wishes that Cricket were being raised as a Christian, there is a whole heap of Christmas traditions that she wishes that she could share with him . . . and so do I. My family is overwhelmingly German, so we have a Christmas with advent calendars and those horrible soft gingerbread cookies (although come to think of it, it’s been many years since we had these—perhaps my Omi was the only one pushing for them. So gross) and that odd candle-powered dingy angel thing and a räuchermänn as well as Santa Claus et al. Cricket, of course, does not celebrate Christmas. His adoptive grandparents do, so he surely will see some lighted trees etc. from the sidelines, but his mama Ruth is adamant that he not grow celebrating Christmas, as she feels that Hanukkah tends to suffer by comparison in the eyes of a child. We are allowed to send a Christmas gift—I actually got this written into our agreement—but it ought not to be intrinsically Christmassy.

I have never celebrated Hanukkah (we’ve missed both of Cricket’s birthday/Hanukkah parties so far), but have a vague understanding of what it’s like. At the same time, I love Christmas, not just in a Christian way (although midnight mass is one of my favorite things) but in the secular Bing Crosby way. Mr. Book loves Christmas. My parents love Christmas. My mother has apparently been thinking about collecting one of those tiny Christmas villages for the benefit of wide-eyed grandchildren—she has made up a Christmas stocking for Joey, and I am deeply curious to see what will go into it. She bought a children’s Christmas book to add to our pile while she was in Stumptown (I heard a story on NPR a few years back about a family who have a big Tupperware container full of Christmas books that gets brought out every December and immediately wanted to do that). Mr. Book and I watch Christmas movies all throughout December, and are constantly on the lookout for more good old ones. I look forward to making Christmas cookies every year, and slowly accumulate more and more decorating supplies to that end. Mr. Book has already sung carols to Joey. We have a box of See’s candy waiting for my return home (my family), and on Christmas I will make noodles (his family) and we’ll watch movies and open presents and play with the baby. Probably there will be trifle.

Today I spent the afternoon decorating the Christmas tree with my mother. It’s Cricket’s birthday, and I’m sure that she doesn’t remember that—she’s been bragging to people about the birth of her first grandchild, and only last night said that “I’ve been saying for a couple of years now that we need to have a baby for Christmas.” Today I’ve had a few quiet, sad moments, but there is also Christmas stuff going on and I want to be involved. Sure, I’d rather we were doing it tomorrow, but my mom has today off work, and here we are, listening to carols, me thinking about Cricket and feeling my breasts ache. It is the strangest thing, that physical reaction. Cricket got a gift from us last week and hopefully a card today, we’ll send two books in a week or so . . . and our December is otherwise completely separate from him. I think about the fact that my father’s birthday is on Christmas Eve and Cricket’s birthday is apparently usually going to be during Hanukkah. I hope he doesn’t mind.

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8 thoughts on “OART 21: The Most Wonderful Time

  1. Marzipan is almond paste!

    We lit the menorah three times (out of eight). In my husband’s jewish family, Christmas rocks. So it goes. I grew up with some of both even though we’re Jewish. Go figure.

    I’m now thinking of Cricket & birthdays as anniversaries that totally stay in your body, keeping you honest to the feelings. I hope that he likes the books & loves Chanukah & celebrates light, which is the unifying theme. May he (& Ruth & Nora for that matter) be thanking you for loving him in the ways you do. I suspect that R&N are thinking of you with huge gratitude today.

    Hugs your way, the real kind if they could just translate across the cyber-wires.

  2. I really can’t imagine what it is like. I think I do like reading your blog. Sometimes it is incredibly upsetting to me, but other times, you are so introspective that I find it interesting. I think there are some parallels between you and my own mother, but I hope not too much as my mom is so…not strong and made huge mistakes. I have struggled with that.

    Tomtom, my son, who I had when I was young and poor, and who I still have now that I am old and poor, used to tell me he wished we were Jewish. This was also when I was working for the USHMM, but whatev, I picked him up from his catering job the other night, where he had worked a rich-kid’s bar mitzvah. “Do you wish you could have one of those? ” I asked, “No way, I have Christmas!” he answered.

    I don’t know, I don’t understand how this all happened. I think I can kind of guess, and my guess is all kinds of gross and disturbing, lack of self-esteem guess. I have read other mothers of your generation and many of them just seem uncaring. You don’t. I mean I know if Cricket becomes too hard or whatev, he will get the boot, like my mom. But why you got here, why I didn’t? I don’t get it.

    It did happen though, and I am sorry because I don’t think it should have. I am frustrated by the adopto-moms who gloss ove it and say I LOVE YOU. I mean maybe they do .But if I loved someone I wouldn’t take their baby.

    Ironically, I am listening to the television and a woman is saying, “Family is our only anchor to life, to lose it you have no idea”

    WoooHOOO adoption! Did I tell you I went to a private school? Yay me.

    why did this happen to Cricket, why will this be his story? Why can’t we help more children?

  3. I’m imagining what mixed emotions you felt yesterday while you and your mom were decorating the tree…missing Cricket, excited about Joey’s first Christmas, sad that you guys can’t share more of Christmas with Cricket. It is so sweet that your mom got a stocking and a Christmas book for Joey and that Mr. Book has sung carols to the baby! Does he take requests? John Denver and the Muppets is my all-time favorite Christmas album.

    I’m so glad you guys wrote in a term allowing you to send Cricket a Christmas present. December may eventually be Cricket’s favorite month, what with his birthday, Hanukkah, and a bit of Christmas. While the magic of Christmas is heightened when we’re kids, it’s a holiday that people can participate in at any age, to whatever degree they feel comfortable. Maybe when Cricket is in college, he’ll come to brunch at your place or volunteer at a food kitchen on the 25th.

    The first time I heard about trifle was on a Friends episode where Rachel accidentally combined recipes for trifle and shepherd’s pie. But yours will be delish I’m sure! Your post inspired me to look for a German Christmas decoration for my mom, and I decided on a Christmas Pyramid.

    • We totally need a Christmas pyramid–a much better pick than angel chimes (the dingy thing I tried lamely to describe). Trifle really is delicious, although the sound of that recipe mishap has me screwing up my face like the baby.

      • I googled angel chimes and they look really familiar! We must have some at my mom’s house. Joey might like watching the pyramid fan spin from the heat of the candles. =)

  4. I just wanted to say, I totally changed my mind since my last comment. I *think* I understand more how this kind of thing is happening. It is this great informational cultural shift, we are in the midst of it and don’t know how it will turn out.

    Like when my mom had me, it was all ooky that dear old dad didn’t marry her, less than 20 years later I gave birth, and it was all ooky that I was young and didn’t have a COLLEGE EDUCATION. I was married, but that is not the reason that people gave to me for “giving my child to a loving family” it was education and funding and being ‘from’ an upper-middle class background. I mean I really felt that and all the years him growing up I really felt that. Annual ski-trips were normal, annual trips to Hawaii were normal, swimming pools and private schools were normal. Heck, owning a home was normal.

    When I was in college there were lots of headlines in newspapers, because yeah we still read them back then, about how my generation would be the first American generation that did not do as well as their parents, and no we didn’t by and large. None of us worked at gas-stations and supported a family of four. The what I consider beautiful beach close home that I grew-up in has moved from upper-middle class to very wealthy in terms of ownership.

    Both my aparents grew-up in pretty modest settings, but for some reason, television? media? Being poor is no longer acceptable. The whole college educated thing, well more people have B.A.s now than graduated from high school in the 1930s, we are over-educated as a population per capita, per usefulness.

    So, I can sort of see how you got caught up in the new normal, the being poor is a sin thing, even though it happens to aparents as well. There is no easy out to a baby. Still though the aparents screaming I LOVE YOU freaks me out in all kinds of ways, because they love your loss. They wouldn’t be all caps-lock if you had kept Cricket and just lived as a poor family and made your way in the world. Like we did.

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