The Christmas Letters
We’ve all received the carefully typed out letter tucked inside the colorful Christmas cards.
It’s a summation of the year’s
accomplishments for the entire family. Although originally it was meant for the pre-social media era when everyone didn’t have access to every aspect of others’ lives; some people still like to send the sometimes dreaded Christmas letter.
I was no exception. When my kids were growing up, I loved to pick out all the upstanding achievements they were busy doing and portray them in the most positive light. Because, of course, if my kids were doing well then that meant I was a good parent right?
The Christmas Letter permitted parents since it was the holidays; to brag about their children’s extracurricular activities.
Since social media has opened up the last decade and a half, there seems reason enough to not need to announce the obvious:
“Jordan is excelling in football, drama club and was voted class president.
Katy has turned her love of animals into a dog walking service while participating in cheer, dance, choral club, chemistry club, and babysitting at night for extra money”.
Yet some Moms still do.
For me, I haven’t even had the thought to send one- even with social media. The last few years have sent me inward to a place where I have been forced to explore my identity outside of my kid’s accomplishments and failures. Being thrown into the world of addiction has a way of humbling the bragging rights right out of a person.
The dread, the despair, the disappointment; that your child isn’t living up to their potential and is endangering their life and health.
The fear of getting “The Call” one day overrides any hope of things changing for the better.
“What did I do wrong?”
Is the question many mom’s ask. Was I too strict? Too lenient? To dismissive? Too busy?
Did I overcompensate for my kid’s failures in the name of “just get it done?”
While researching for my book about my journey through my son’s addiction https://samantha-waters.com/1000-last-goodbyes/; I found many things I should have done differently. Especially after reading Gabor Mate`s research. But how is that helpful now?
Who needs more guilt?
There is not one cause for a so called “failure”. And besides, what is failure and what is success?
As I came across this headline for the perfect mom who did everything right and wants to share her secret; I admit I may have cringed a little.
Was I was offended that she idealized the perfect parent and that a child’s success is directly correlated to said perfect parenting?
But then I realized that my children’s success is NOT dependent on what contributions to the business world they make. Even though my addicted son did build several successful businesses; is his worth now non-existent because of his low fico score?
Although all of my children have had their ups and downs in financial success, they all have hearts of gold and strong work ethics.
They have all worked a job since they were 15 and always aspired to improve their situations.
My kids were taught to respect their elders, to respect others’ space and rights. And mostly to help people when needed. They are all very pleasant to be around and have fantastic senses of humor. They can make a friend of anyone, because of these qualities.
All my kids have influenced those around them in whatever situation they were in, whether in a work environment or a still-learning, challenging environment with other unhealed people.
But I had to wonder:
Am I essentially doing the same thing as her- bragging up my kids in order to reflect positively on me?
Sure. We are all human. I also am likely reacting to being the mother of a person with substance use disorder who has ended up in the correctional system as a result. Before this experience, my family may have joked about posting bail or being a prisoner in certain scenarios but not any more.
When that world hits home and you are getting a call from your child at so & so correctional facility; life suddenly turns real.
How do you write that in a Christmas Letter?
Luckily my bond runs deeper than what the world says my son is.
My bond says that even when homeless, he has worth and value. Such worth and value that he deserves the dignity of being offered housing, food and at least — kindness. He doesn’t need to be shunned away like Napoleon who I write about here: https://samantha-waters.com/2021/05/14/exiled-to-a-deserted-island/
So what would my Christmas Letter read if I did send one?
As this year draws to a close, I hope you and yours are doing well and thriving. Our family continues to have a hand in the game of life with many challenges and blessings.
I am grateful for the opportunities to practice unconditional, fierce love for all my children. They continue to fight and explore the complexities of life through a kaleidoscope of adventure. One son has explored this from the steel & brick walls of a jail cell, but also from a kayak on a beautiful lake. Another son has built up his business to afford a brand new house, vehicles, and a growing family and the challenges and blessings that come with that. Another son has finely found his happiness being a stepdad to two amazing kids. A daughter seeks joy every day with her large family of kidlets - who all love sports. Another daughter continues her search for her niche in life and the challenges of supporting herself. We are all extremely blessed to have one more day to figure it out and survive and thrive. Our love runs beyond prison walls, beyond the frailties of the human spirit, and lies deeper than the challenges of the human ego and outward personalities. We are connected through hearts and souls, even in times of separation and strife. We extend our love and blessings to you and yours and wish you a happy holiday season.