For years, Christmas was a time of desperation and despair. Rocky came to us at two, a product of the foster care system, with issues which are difficult for "normal" families to contemplate. The time between Halloween and New Year's eve were always stressful and chaotic for him, and consequently for us, apparently an anniversary time for him. His acting out included urination throughout the house, manic behavior, manipulation, constant battles for control, breaking all his own gifts within hours of unwrapping them, stealing other family members' gifts, including breaking some of them, too, and knee-jerk lying. We tried what we could to help him through it, eventually, though, giving up in despair and suffering it out as best we could. Since his memories of the time before us were pre-verbal, we may never know for sure what happened to him to cause that reaction every year during the holidays. I talked to him earlier this week about the previous years, and he gave me some insight about his thoughts and feelings during those earlier times, a pretty tough job for a kid who could earn a scholarship to the Gary Cooper School of Communication.
This year, a year in which he has shot up tremendously in height and has broadened through the shoulders, a year in which his voiced deepened, apparently overnight, he has grown into peace, too. He focused on others as he planned and bought Christmas gifts for the whole family, me included for the first time this year, and is now waiting excitedly for Wednesday's family "wrap party" to wrap them all.
What he doesn't realize is that he gave me my gift early this year--creating little chaos, gaining perspective, and even teasing me back about his dirty socks. He gave me peace in the house and hope that he will be able to experience joy every holiday season.