It’s time to pull out the Christmas music once again.  Each year I stash it in the same place on a bookshelf, knowing that inevitably we will be listening to Diana Ross’ off-key Silver Bells, Nat King Cole’s classic White Christmas and the Vince Guaraldi’s sound track to A Charlie Brown ChristmasDecember another holiday favorite, is a collection of somber but beautiful piano pieces by George Winston.  Originally recorded in 1982, it is the backdrop to a lot of my holiday memories growing up.  It makes me wonder why this particular holiday can take on such a sad tone especially in music.  Christmas is supposed to be about presents, and good cheer, and Santa, but somehow it can just as easily take a poignant and melancholy turn. 

I am a sucker for a sad song, so I am told.  Given our holidays the past few years with the ups and downs of being foster parents, it’s been easy to succumb to the melancholy—but not this year.  Our Christmas is full of excitement and anticipation that comes primarily from the resident four-year old who has suddenly become very aware that Santa is on his way.  I’ve helped indoctrinate him to the traditions of Christmas with the holiday classic, Santa Clause is Coming to Town.  The decorations, tree and all of the references to the presents that the jolly guy is likely to leave, probably hasn’t hurt any. 

It’s difficult to wonder if this will be our foster son’s last Christmas with us.  It seems unconscionable that he would not be here next year.  For me it has been so long, that the idea of him not sitting at the dinner table or calling out to us at six o’clock each morning, “hey everyone!” is such a foreign concept.  I don’t have moments of fear or welling up with tears uncontrollably.  While the likelihood that his case will be resolved soon is slight, the fact is, I no longer expect that he will be leaving us.  There is reason to hope, but that’s not really what I feel either.  It’s that I can no longer imagine another outcome.  I have seen how he has become, in many ways, the center of this family.  I have also seen how his siblings have settled into their family.  I have a hard time imagining how anyone would disrupt the world that they/we have come to know.

It’s a dangerous place to live, I know.  But I’ve lived for years believing, preparing, expecting his departure and instead, he remains.  His presence looms large in our world.  He is maturing.  I often see him in day care and think about how he is ready to move on.  He can think for himself.  He has a distinct sense of humor and there’s a certain mischievousness to his personality.  He schemes; he plans; he even outsmarts.  He has learned to pick out his own clothes and dresses himself most days.  He is very clear in his wants and will argue his point with what he feels is convincing and unwavering logic.  It’s these kinds of changes in him that make our world different these days.   

For more than three years now, the organic relationship of our family has grown in large part because of our son.  Our life has a rhythm that he often drives.  His relationships with everyone in the house is very distinct.  He gives commands to the dogs and they tend to listen more often.  He entertains his little brother and knows how to make him laugh.  He wants hugs and says I love you to us all the time.  He loves his Daddy dearly and I think sometimes he would die without him.  I know he loves me too, but there is no one who could ever take the place of Darrow.  T has a place in our home, in our community of friends and in our extended families.  I don’t know how to even imagine our family without him.  I just can’t.

This time around Christmas has a different meaning.  And it’s because of him.  Lucas who is 14 months old and hasn’t a clue about Christmas, I suspect will be more interested in the paper and boxes than the presents themselves.  This is the year of the big Christmas though, when I suspect both Daddy and Papa will go a little overboard on our little four-year old boy.  I know that the presents are as much for us as they are for him.  I get to play Santa, to watch the wild paper tearing vortex, the intrigue and pleasure that will cross his face and the fun that we will all have playing with his new toys! 

You see as wonderful as December is, that kind of music can only make the holiday more beautiful.  It has no power over me this year.

Even Sarah’s is powerless this year…