Six years ago I served Christmas dinner in my pajamas. It was a miserable moment summing up the state of my life. I was renting an old farm house that turned out to be infested with mice. Though my greatest fear, I’d dealt with that in a few other places I rented over the years. But when sign of the rodents showed up in my bed, I must admit I never did sleep well again in that house. Turning the dinning room into my bedroom kept the critters out of my bed but didn’t offer me much peace of mind.
That Christmas, my teenage foster child forgot to take her morning medication. After she opened her gifts, I was busy getting things ready for the family get together. She wanted to help. Normally, she did a good job of remembering the pills and the medication helped her to function. The hyperness I mistook as being related to the excitement of the holiday. Then she dropped the turkey on the floor while trying to dance with it. I thoroughly washed the bird and got it in the oven. Everything was a struggle that morning. I shed a few tears when family and friends arrived and I was still in pajamas.
I was still a relatively new mom, having been caring for a teenager for 2 years. I wanted everything to be magical and perfect. I wanted to give my foster child shiny new memories to help balance out the years of pain and heartache. That child grew into an adult. She left with all the life lessons I could cram into her head and the memory of laughing at me repeatedly that Christmas as I served dinner in my pajamas. By the time everyone arrived, slightly early, getting dressed seemed much too difficult.
Having been at this now for over 7 years, I’m no longer a new mom. With every passing season, I’m excusing myself more and more from the pressure I put on myself. I can’t always make it magical. I certainly can’t make it perfect.
Yesterday, I decided to get dressed if I felt so inclined. Despite my parents being late, I ended up receiving them in my new Christmas pajamas. There were no tears over this fact. It was a rather conscious choice. The kids were in the pajama pants I’d made for them and their cousins. Since the adoption, our tradition has been to either buy or make matching pajamas for Raine, Athena, and all their cousins. At first it was very significant – making them feel connected to a family that had previously not really been theirs. It was a tangible item that helped Raine make the leap from being a foster child who took part in our family celebrations to an actual member of the family. My parents and siblings had never treated her as anything less than part of the family but Raine had considered herself a visitor when she was a foster child. The pajamas were something she could look at and say, “We’re the same because we’re family.”
This year, I made the pajama pants for our 9yr old foster child as well (whose face I can not show).
Raine’s acceptance of family has expanded to the point that the matching pj’s are likely redundant but it’s a tradition I enjoy keeping. So all the cousins received a pair of pants with a shirt I purchased. Raine, Athena, and J had the same shirt. Getting them Christmas Eve, they wanted to keep them on Christmas Day.
They sang Hark the Herald Angels Sing repeatedly as they have been for weeks. They were thrilled with their gifts. They were joyful. And peace reigned. I’d been secretly bracing myself for a major upset – particularly from J. She’d been to her mother’s for two days prior to Christmas to celebrate with her family there. Things hadn’t ended well due to some miscommunication between the worker, the mother, and myself. I informed J of the scheduling information I’d been given. But turns out there were alterations I was unaware of. J’s birth mom told the volunteer driver I’d completely ruined Christmas for J because of the misinformation. I expected J to fulfill her mother’s wish of having a miserable holiday. But J was mercifully mild. She went along with our traditions and my instructions. She even seemed to enjoy herself. At bedtime, she hugged me tight saying, “I won’t let you go. You’re my special Christmas present.”
There was no perfection. The tree was slightly haggard from an incidentlast week when the kids tried to shake a bunch of needles off to use as food in the play kitchen. I’d been upstairs sewing pajamas. The floors weren’t mopped. And somehow Athena broke a curtain rod in the dinning room while my parents carried in the gifts they brought. I wasn’t impressed. There’s now no hiding the dirty sliding door. This is life with all it’s imperfections. I’m not a great housekeeper. But the kids have matching pajamas, stockings I knit, and so much more.
And I appreciated the joy and peace in our home as I moved through the day in my pajamas.