The holiday music has begun. The stores are advertising heavily. The black Friday ads were hung on our mailbox today. Yet, I'm not the slightest bit ready to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas emotionally.
Every time I think about Thanksgiving and Christmas, I think of our family--immediate and extended around the table. So many people, so much to be thankful for, and yet, every time I picture this, I feel the tears welling up inside me. One of the members of our family, our official family, is thousands of miles away. Alone. Apart from his family. For this reason, I have seriously debated holing up in the house on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm afraid I will be no fun to be around. I'll be spending the day thinking of our teenage son, fighting back tears, and be a bear to be around.
To say it simply- It's not fair. My kid made a mistake. A mistake that here in America, as a juvenile, he would have been turned over to his parents and given a stiff warning. Possibly some community service. In his country, they talked about putting him in prison for three years. For stealing something in order to buy food, because he was hungry. Instead of prison, he's on probation. He's not allowed to leave the state. My son is no angel, I'm perfectly aware of that. But why, if a kid is nuisance, wouldn't you be happy to get him out of your hair? Out of the country? But instead, he has to stay.
When we talked to Max last weekend, he sounded very down. I could hear the despair in his voice. He was on such a high in September. He was going home--forever. Someone was actually coming for him. Coming to make him a part of a family. A forever family. He is a part of our family. He legally has our last name. But he is stuck in another country.
As I think about our boy, he has to spend another Thanksgiving, another Christmas, and another birthday away from his official, legal family. It stinks--really stinks. Then I think about all the other kids at the orphanage. At least Max has hope--hope in knowing this is his last Thanksgiving, his last Christmas, and his last birthday at the orphanage. There are 160 other children there that have lost hope of ever finding a family. The kids are older, unwanted, maybe not even registered to be adopted because of some clerical error.
I'm not sure who Christmas will be harder for this year- Max, or the other children. Max knows it's his last in Ukraine, but he also understands the fun, family, and joy that Christmas brings. And he's stuck. He's missing Christmas with his family. The other kids don't understand what they are missing, yet as Max shares about what Christmas (and birthdays) are like with a family, those children have little hope of ever having the opportunity to know the love of a family to celebrate with.
I think about the kids in the orphanage. Everything is community property. There is a closet in Max's room that he shares with 5 other boys. Each day, those boys go to the one closet in the room, and wear clothes that are in the closet. The clothes may be a little big, possibly a little small, but that's what is in the closet. He has a shelf with his name on it. This shelf holds a bar of soap, a toothbrush, and toothpaste that is his. That's it--something that is all his and not community property.
So please excuse my under-excited attitude about Christmas presents this year. Another trip half way around the world has again reminded me how fortunate we are. We may have only $5.00 in our pocket, and have "nothing to wear" though our closet is full of clothes. Our children have countless toys and a dresser full of clothes. The presents we will purchase will be the "favorite" for days/weeks, then will become one of the many other toys that sit on a shelf. My children, my family have warm food in their bellies each day, a roof over their head, someone to kiss them, reassure them, support them, and love them. Oh how I pray for those who do not have these simple joys, those joys we take for granted.
So if I seem a little be-humbugish, there's the reason. I'm just not feeling it this year. I would rather have nothing under the tree this year. I would rather be in a stark, dank orphanage room with my son and my family, just enjoying being together. He's not the only one wishing time would pass quickly so that his "forever family" would be together again.