I am creating my Christmas cards this week, you know, the kind with the adorable photos of my boys and some sort of happy sentiment. But I decided that I needed to skip writing the Christmas letter this year. I used to think it was so fun, even before I had kids. I thought everyone wanted to hear about my adventures. Then when Herbie was born, I had to write all about how cute and amazing he was. I liked reading everyone else's letters, too. Last year, I could barely muster a paragraph, so it was just a short note printed on the back of the photo card saying we'd moved and the kids were doing great. What else could I have written? About all of the economic uncertainty and stress surrounding our move? The fact that my kids had serious behavior issues and were not meeting all the developmental milestones bragged about in everyone else's letters? The fact that I didn't know why and it was driving me crazy? Yeah. So I kept it short, and then tried to be happy for the families who sent those long letters detailing their kids' fluency in Spanish and mastery of swimming and bicycle riding at the age of 4.
This year, I could write something about how Herbie was diagnosed with ASD and anxiety. Does anyone want to read that in a holiday letter? Or how we still don't know what's up with the Wise Old Owl, but at least we have an appointment with a new neurologist. Or that Herbie learned to ride his bike with training wheels and actually looks where he is going--I was jumping for joy about that but would anyone else? Or that Owl has dropped all of his sign language and communicates verbally, nothing short of a miracle, the most progress his SLP had ever seen in a child. Does anyone besides my mom appreciate the hugeness of my kids' accomplishments? How could I really write a Christmas letter about all of that? I will not even try.
The next step is reading all of those pesky letters that will arrive in the mail. Will I be sad? Jealous? Irritated? I like to think that I have gotten to a place where I can be happy for my friends and the accomplishments of their NT kids. When it is one friend here or there telling me about something cool regarding their child, I really can rejoice with them. The challenge for December is to read 30 letters and feel the same joy for them. But then I will also wonder, is their life all sunshine like they portray? We don't really say the things on our hearts in those letters. If I chose not to share our real life, there must be others writing happy letters who are hiding something. Maybe this year, instead of reading their stories and wondering what it would be like to have their life, I'll say a prayer of thanks for their blessings, and a prayer of hope that whatever worries them (do you know anyone who has no worries?) would make them stronger, that God would reach out to them through someone's act of kindness this holiday season and make their Christmas even brighter.

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