Today, I think the stork could be useful in a time when people's children might have come with the help of rounds of IVF, medication, adoption, international adoption, gestational carriers, foster children, etc. Wouldn't it be easier just to say the stork brought him? Perhaps it's just me. We are having baby #2 through a gestational carrier, and I still find that telling some people about our baby news can be less than simple. I have to throw in so much more information than one simple sentence. At times I am asked highly personal questions about my medical issues, and every so often, someone throws an opinion on the whole process at me. It can be appealing to keep the whole journey private for as long as possible.
However, once having a baby—if through a gestational carrier, or if you have gotten the go ahead with fostering or adoption—your story is going to come out. Unless you are on a soap opera and in a villainous attempt to trap the object of your affection you successfully carried an ever increasing sugar bag on your belly for nine months (I worked in a hospital where the highly believable “Passions" was often on in the patient room), I only fleetingly considered it.
I also thought about sharing our announcement with a proper PR spin, some kind of celebrity endorsement by referencing Bill and Giuliana, Jimmy Fallon, Jordanna Brewster, Elizabeth Banks, and Sarah Jessica Parker. These very “it” people have also walked down this non-traditional route, so it's cool, right? But really, what does it matter? I have a unique story that is only mine and it involves an incredible journey of having biological children through the help and generosity of others, and this is my story to tell.
A headline I caught featured the subtitle "How will you announce that you are expecting?" For me, I guess this is kind of it. But if you aren't choosing to give up all hope for privacy by putting it on the internet for all to see, here are ten cute ideas to announce your unique family expanding journey:
After months of planning, shopping, and wrapping, Christmas has left again for another year. For some, it met or exceeded expectations, for others it didn't. Some happily accepted all of their gifts; gifts they didn't ask for, things they didn't need, some even conceded that the thought counted. Others thought that there was just too little thought.
Hopefully whatever the result, thank yous were given and proper gratitude was expressed. With everything going on in the world, is the issue of not getting what we want at holidays or celebrations bordering on the ridiculous? Yes! We are a society of wanting what we want and justifying our frustration when we don't get it. We need to suck it up and simply say THANK YOU!
I was recently at a celebration where a child received a sort of comical gift. A bit of fun, but the child's response and how much they didn't like it was appalling. The parents sort of laughed it off, but we the guests jumped in and raved about how wonderful the gift was. I was even tempted to lecture my own kid on the spot just to make sure she would never create such a production when receiving a gift of her own. Again, it was a different kind of gift, but that doesn't matter. I believe it is our responsibility to correct, show, teach and model to our kids the importance of gratitude and a proper reception of gifts.
At times receiving can be complicated. And here are some of the areas for us to keep in check that can affect our attitude of gratitude:
Expectation: We do it to ourselves. We want and we want specifically, Merry Christamass and Merry Christmusts. We tie our happiness to something believing it will make us happy and when this is not fulfilled we get disappointed. We might have had a little help; our boyfriend might have bought a present shaped exactly like a ring box that turned out to be fridge magnets, you might have hinted up a storm about something and thought the hinted-to caught on, or your boss might have been promising a Christmas bonus of epic proportions and ended up being a company golf towel—remember how Clark received the jelly of the month on National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation? These situations can make our hearts sink a little, but if we keep our expectations and our pool down payments in check there is really nothing to say other than thank you.
Fear: I know I have worried when I have received something I think the person has spent too much money on or I don't think I will use especially when finances have been tight. The worry is coming from a decent place, but I have learned it is better just to say "thank you." Let people choose their own budget and what they would like to give you.
Interpretation: When we interpret the gift as a marking stick for how much we matter to the person we are creating a problem. This issue often comes up in romantic relationships where the one partner feels the other doesn't value them enough to take special care in buying a gift. I often hear clients share that it wasn't that they wanted something extravagant, but rather wanted something that shows the person cared, a favourite magazine or some trinket that uniquely represents them would have sufficed. Being handed cash on the day, year after year, can sometimes feel like a cop out. However, some people don't really value gifts, it isn't their love language. They will serve, spend time with you or verbally affirm before they ever think of gifts. It might not always excuse the fact that a gift is important to you, but not getting certain gifts doesn't necessarily mean you aren't cared about.
I have also seen people complain about not getting enough or the right gift when the person has put in effort. This behaviour really doesn't lend itself well to an excuse. In this case you are simply putting in an order, a demand on someone else that they then have to fulfill. You are best to leave this exchange for the gifts you order for yourself as it takes the act of giving and receiving completely out of the picture.
At the end of the day a gift is a gift, so say thank you. Be thankful. As parents we have little people watching our every move and we want to model responses of appreciativeness. Yes, people might not have put in as much thought as you did into their gift giving, they may have wasted money on something you may never use, and they might have given you the wrong idea about what you were getting but that is inconsequential. You are responsible for you. Being a cheerful receiver is a better way to live as satisfaction is realized when you are grateful and counting your blessings. And in the end, living cheerfully and thankfully is a pretty big gift to yourself.
There are three little angels that adorn my Christmas tree. They are lovely, delicate, and unique. I cherish them, but mostly for who they represent, someone who is no longer with me at Christmas.
Many of us have things we highly value for these same reasons. It might be something rather unremarkable to the rest of the world, but for us it provides a bit of connection to someone from the past. Last week, I wrote an article on dealing with grief during the holidays. The article talks about keeping traditions that you are ready for, that make you feel healthy and good. Hanging the angels always gives me a sense of peace and provides me time to pause, reflect, and remember while I hang them.
I reached out to some of the other YMC bloggers and got some beautiful symbolic actions and tributes. Thank you Kat and Sharon!
Sharon DeVellis from The Inside Scoop shares this: “My Mom passed away when I was ten weeks pregnant with my son. She made an angel for her own tree that I took for our family and now the boys take turns on alternating years putting the angel on top of the tree in her memory."
Kat Inokai from Trying Times states: “Every year I make my Grandma's traditional cabbage roll recipe, and I pour her a cup of coffee while I cook. We used to love cooking together while we had a coffee. I like feeling like she's there with me. I also sometimes set a place at the table for everyone who's not with us: Grandmas, Grandpas, Aunts, Cousins, and close friends. It's a way of remembering and sharing in the present at the same time.”
I love this gift idea for remembering a loved one who has passed:
It is now an inspiration for a gift for my Mom and her best friend who will be ten years without the third of their close-knit, tea-drinking trio this March. I grew up with her in my life—even called her Auntie—and I miss her. As my Mom says, she was a woman of occasion and hosted our annual Christmas get-together. I miss her phone calls, her shortbread cookies, yorkshire pudding, trifle, and lime cordial. She was a wonderful woman.
The angels were a gift from her.
What traditions or sentimental items have you kept or treasured? What honouring gifts are you giving this Christmas in remembrance?