Thursday, December 29, 2011
We spent weeks in preparation. The Christmas tree was filled with non-breakable ornaments, the decorations were all arranged just out of reach, and now it was time to purchase presents. Jeremy and I devote a lot of thought to our gift giving. Our children are spoiled just by nature of living in the United States, but we try to give thoughtful gifts without going hog wild. (For anyone non-southern reading this post, "hog-wild" is a term referring to being "so wildly excited as to be irrational or devoid of good judgment.")
Olivia and Jack tend to be very easy to please. Their wish lists are short and include items that they have been interested in for some time. This was really the first Christmas where Judah was aware of the gift giving and celebrating. I'm convinced he would have been thrilled with a lump of coal in his stocking. Jalen is not terribly hard to please either. He is pretty clear about what interests him. Last year he was into dressing up, and so he got a full length mirror and a box of dress up clothes and hats. This year he has been interested in microphones, telephones, cameras, and stethoscopes. This may sound very normal, but Jalen fixates on items and carries them around all day long. That is where the behavior no longer appears normal, and would be considered atypical.
Josiah is another story entirely. Trying to figure out the perfect gift for him is a nightmare. We have the same desires as other parents. We want to be confident that we have found the perfect gift. One that brings him instant excitement and causes his little face to light up with joy. But the truth of the matter is that we rarely feel confident about our purchases, and we most often don't get the joyful response we were hoping for. Every birthday and every Christmas, we try nonetheless.
Jeremy and I were pretty sure that we had nailed it this year. Because Christmas fell on Sunday, we decided to celebrate a day early. We knew that Christmas Eve morning would come, and we would ALL be thrilled and happy and feel special. Christmas Eve morning did come. Josiah did well for the first little bit, and he even seemed to enjoy his first small gift. But, it didn't take long for him to get overwhelmed and disinterested. I tried over and over to draw his attention to the presents I was opening for him. He would sit down long enough to enjoy some candy from his stocking, and then he would go back to swinging in his swing, and staying on the outskirts disengaged and agitated at times. We were not surprised by Josiah's behavior, and we certainly weren't angry. I asked Jeremy if it still bothered him, and he said of course it was still heartbreaking. There are some aspects of this disorder that cause the same pain again and again.
I kept my emotions in check until Papa and Meemaw called to hear about the excitement, and, as always, I welled up just hearing my Mama's voice. She let me have my moment of sadness, and then it was time to buck up. I had four other children running around excited and ready to take on the day. And after the excitement settled a bit and a good nap was had, Josiah warmed up to his presents, and has been enjoying some of them ever sense. Yes, we did a great job of choosing gifts that Josiah would enjoy, but we had to be patient and let him find the joy of the gift on his own timeline.
Moments like this make us treasure our faith all the more. How thankful we are for an eternal hope, and for the promise that one day all Christians will experience perfect joy together in heaven. We are so grateful for God's gift of His son Jesus, for the sinless life Christ lived, and for His sacrificial death on the cross that provided a means for us to be forgiven and saved. Yes, we have an eternal joy and hope!