Not the Christmas I Planned

It was October and with our new family budgeting plan I was already preparing our family for Christmas. We have always had a planned giving program of one thing to wear, one thing you need, one thing you want and something to read. I began carefully finding different things for each of our five kids. I wanted it to be a special year. This year the kids have been so strong in support for their sister and the changes in our family I wanted it to be perfect.

As is life, its just not perfect. I knew that I wouldn't be getting that iPhone 7 for my oldest and the boy who wanted a Hatchimal (a week before Christmas) was going to be learning the meaning of disappointment. Still I wanted it to be a morning of magic and splendor.

As we neared Christmas, we were blessed with additional therapies for Seraphina and due to the therapies we made changes in the family. The kids stood strong as we asked them to change schools, change churches and become involved more in their community. They did it with grace.

My parents changed plans and decided to come see us to make it easier on us and arrived a few days before Christmas making the holiday complete.

Christmas Eve we set out to the new church we have been attending and our kids participated in the Christmas Pageant. Simone played Mary, while Cecily was Gabriel and Felicity was an angel. I was elated to see the beauty of the church.
Seraphina arrived with my parents, Colin and Jude and sat happily on my lap in the first row until mass began. In the moments following I tried to chase her into the Narthex full of families coming for Christmas. Then I tried taking her into the Church Hall, it was busy too. She screamed and cried, I felt my body warming with embarrassment. I wanted to hide but my keys were in the front row with my husband. As I stood looking deflated doors closed to keep her noise out. A young man looked at me and said "what can I do?". My body relaxed, I asked him to find my husband. He did. He brought me the keys and I stood outside and waited a woman offered her sweater to keep Seraphina warm. I saw Jesus in those around me that night.

Christmas morning was going to be better I knew it. We would have a wonderful morning of family. At midnight, a small shadow appeared at my bedside. I sleepily awoke to Cecily telling me she was going to be sick. Thankful for small blessings she made the toilet or bucket every time she got sick and I had a husband to share the work with. We shuffled around in the dark caring for her, cleaning buckets and getting her something to settle her tummy (thank you Tanya and Tummygize). At 3 a.m. the bathroom light went on and I went to see who else was sick. Simone. She wasn't sick but unable to sleep and so I sent her back to bed and instead of sleeping she prayed the rosary asking Mary to heal Cecily. At 6 a.m. everyone else awoke with excitement of Christmas and I felt like I just wanted to sleep. We shuffled down to the family room and I was ready for perfection.

There sat Cecily, pale and sickly on the blanket. Seraphina cried incessantly and the other three tried to salvage the morning smiling as I looked on wondering why this perfect morning I had planned shattered?

Christmas morning carried on and it wasn't anything I expected. We tried to console Seraphina and nothing seemed to work. The kids patiently waited as she had fits and still found happiness in their toys.

Christmas was not what I planned. It wasn't what I wanted or hoped. I was once again reminded I am not in control. Christmas isn't about the presents but the PRESENCE. I saw him in the strangers at mass. I saw him in the mom who came up to tell me the girls did a beautiful job after mass. I saw it in my children as they waited patiently for Seraphina to calm down and find the ability to play with a gift. I found it in the texts with a friend who has a child with autism letting me know that it will in fact get better.

One thing I shared on facebook the other day was hope for others to find peace and comfort and so today, I hope for that too...not just for others but for me too. Hope that I can do my best for each of my kids. Hope that I can find the silver lining even when it is difficult to see. Hope that I can give EACH of my kids the best that I can possibly give.

This wasn't the Christmas I planned. I had moments of tears. I had moments of anger. I had moments of feeling that life isn't fair and I wanted the life I envisioned but that isn't God's plan and I am reminded once again His plan reigns.

To all my friends and family members, thank you for helping us to see Jesus in you. Thank you for helping us to find Christmas in each day, in the small acts of kindness and a HUGE thank you to my husband for walking this journey with me and to my parents who believe that even though I feel God made a mistake in giving me this path to travel that he has blessed me with patience and grace to handle all that comes my way.

Merry Christmas. I pray you find Christ in people you meet and you choose to be Christ to others as we enter into 2017.


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