These last few weeks have been quite uplifting, if you could say that. This year has been hard on my kid since we lost Nike, added to losing Zoe a couple years ago, and Richard almost 6 years ago. We also lost 2 fish the morning after we lost Nike. The kid had been going into this on and off Eeyore-like gloomy funk and I had to do something to fish him out of it for good. I prayed for God to show me a way or two to help my kid, and God answered my prayers! That’s when I started the “cheer-the-kid-up” operation.
So, my “cheer-the-kid-up” operation started back in early October, right before the Hallmark store released the annual keepsake ornaments. I’ve always loved Christmas, and one of my favorite Christmas things have always been the tree and the ornaments. It was husband’s favorite thing too, and the kid must have inherited that from us and it makes me beyond happy. So, the kid and I went through the Hallmark website, chose our annual ornaments, then showed up at the store first thing in the morning on the day when they finally released the ornaments.
Then the operation continued on Thanksgiving Day. Instead of turning Thanksgiving into an aggravating stressful day cooking the bird and all the side dishes, we ordered our feast at a restaurant, picked it up, we ate and then well, let’s say mama here went crazy and started decorating for Christmas for four days in a row and the kid tagged along. We agreed that even if mama got a little OCD, we would calm down and still decorate the whole thing together.
While eating Thanksgiving dinner we found “The Christmas Chronicles” on Netflix, which we watched over and over for at least 3-4 days in a row. Besides becoming our favorite Christmas movie, it helped me put things in perspective for the kid. Spoiler alert: in the movie, the dad of the kids passes away and now they have to figure a few things out on their own. While watching I pointed out to the kid that even when the kids lost their dad (just like my kid did), the girl didn’t doesn’t stop believing and then she helped her brother believe too. “So mom, you’re saying it’s ok to be sad but it’s ok to believe?” Yes!!
And that’s when I saw the bulb turning on in the kid!
So this is when the whole Christmas fun began: when we got all three big Christmas trees out! My late husband’s rotating Christmas tree died last year and well, I had to get another that looked just like it. However, I had bought a skinny tree while we were in the tiny transition house, and then bought a medium size rotating tree when we moved to this house and I couldn’t get to my other trees. At any rate, I got rotating bases for the new and skinny trees, so we got all 3 rotating Christmas trees up.
The kid helped me with putting the lights on the new tree. First, we had to do the math because the rotating base can only handle so many lights, and mama here wanted to put like 1,000 lights on, but I couldn’t. Well, we started and put the lights up, then took them down. Up again, then down again. We argued about it, complained about it, yelled at the lights, yelled at the tree and at each other but then we made peace, then finally got it right on the fourth time. When I saw the kid by the tree, making sure the lights were in the right place, sorting out the lights that were going up next, I got this amazing feeling of gratitude that my kid not only wants to help his mama but that he loves Christmas as much as I do!
The fun part for the kid was when we finally started bringing all the ornament boxes out. There were a lot of tears when he got the family ornaments that had husband, Nike and Zoe on them. Going down memory lane was a little too much for my little man, but after hugging over and over and letting it all out, we finally went through each box. The kid got to hear the story behind each ornament again, and it was so sweet to see all the emotions going through him.
Yes, of course I had my OCD moments, I mean I had always decorated everything myself and I had followed my same Christmas method, and now the kid wanted to help, actually more like demanded to help, so I explained it to the kid more than thrice, but he’s a boy and next thing I know, he’s pulling several ornaments out of the boxes at the same time and well, I had to slam his breaks and slow down. Kid! What are you doing?! Mom! I’m a boy and boys make messes!!
Well, I did pray for a boy, didn’t I? Anyways, moving right along…
I had also fallen in love with a Santa Claus tree and a Snowman tree my friend had put in previous years. So, I got both toppers and got them on 4ft trees and voila! The kid found all the Christmas stuffed animals we put on the Santa tree and the Deadpool that went to Santa’s rear, to watch his back you know. The kid brought his old boots for both trees, we worked together to get the belt done, he painted the Snowman’s buttons and we finished with his old scarf for the Snowman.
I had promised him a tree for his room. We had used a 2ft white tree with dinosaurs before, but I got him a 3ft tree and he decorated with all stuffed little animals he had collected along the way. I bought him a blue star topper and a blue tree skirt for the tree and the rest was up to him. Since I placed it up against his dresser mirror, it made sense to have him decorate the back as well. I showed him how, walked away and he did a terrific job! His wildlife Christmas tree looks adorable!
After Thanksgiving, we took a break from Christmas and traveled back to California to visit husband’s side of the family. Grandma had not seen the kid since we brought husband’s ashes back home in 2013. She didn’t know anything about the trip, so the surprise was huge for her. Both grandma and the kid had a great time together. Grandma had lost her son, the kid had lost his dad, and the two of them just reconnected. This visit helped my kid in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. It felt like they both sort of found some kind of closure if that makes any sense.
What I know is, the kid seemed more at peace, not as gloomy as he was before the whole “cheer-the-kid-up” operation started.
Finally, my staircase Merry Christmas tree. I had been getting vintage and country Christmas ornaments to go with my country apple theme that has been on hold for a few years. I told husband I wanted an apple Christmas tree, and one day I found shelves filled with apples and I bought as many as I could. So anyways, maybe I’ll get all the apples out next year but, in the meantime the country ornaments went to the stair tree. So I got some country ornaments that say ‘Merry Christmas’. The last few years we have heard that it’s better to say happy holidays, but it doesn’t feel right. At all. This is the time when Jesus Christ was born, which is why it’s Christmas. To me the right thing to say is Merry Christmas. End of story. So, the stair tree became my Merry Christmas tree. The kid had to be extra careful because that tree turned a little flimsy, but it looks cute and it’s just for the staircase so there’s that.
Our Elves on the Shelf, Tom & Jerry came back this year, and they have been so entertaining, distracting and helpful with my “cheer-the-kid-up” operation! I want the kid to remember his dad and fur siblings but I also want him to look and move forward and for now it’s best for my kid to focus on what the elves are doing, which has been keeping the kid on his toes. One morning Tuffy & Mr. Nibbles, the pet reindeers also showed up and have also been keeping the kid busy. Every day has been a shocking surprise for the kid, finding out what the Elves and the reindeers are up to.
The last thing I planned for the “cheer-the-kid-up” operation was a train ride on the North Polar Express. We drove almost 5 hours to Palestine, TX on Friday, and after checking in at the hotel, we visited the Grinch’s Lair at the Texas Jail House. The amount of work they put into decorating the whole jail house to make it look like the Grinch’s Lair was amazing, and the Grinch! That Grinch looked like the real Grinch! The kid had a lot of fun getting into the cells and talking with the Grinch and his crew, so that part of the trip was great!
The next day we finally got to the Polar Express train. I had matching pajamas for the two of us, we got there with plenty of time, and the fun began. We have been collecting Christmas snow globes, so we bought a Polar Express snow globe, a keepsake mug, a train ornament and an ornament for the bell we were going to get, a wooden train whistle, and got the Polar Express picture with the kid. We finally made it to our seats, the crew danced, passed sugar cookies and hot chocolate cups. The kid got his round-trip ticket stamped by the Conductor and then the train stopped at the North Pole where we saw Santa Claus standing on the open sleigh, saw the elves dancing around and the penguins waving hello. Santa Claus boarded the train with the elves, and they gave each of us a bell, and also Santa Claus autographed the kid’s round-trip ticket.
I mean, how awesome was that?!
The day after the long drive back home we watched the Polar Express movie, and we both realized something at the end of the movie. The boy in the movie finally believed and was able to hear the bell, even when his parents didn’t. The kid went back to our tree and grabbed the ornament holding the bell. We both heard the bell, and with a huge smile on his face the kid said “mama I can hear it ring because I believe!”
Can you see the huge smile I have on my face??
So even though Christmas is days away, and the kid has asked about 5,389 times if he can open a Christmas present, the kid has not lost that magical thing that kids should have. The kid still believes! It could be dumb or it could be nonsense for you, but for me, it is important to keep this ‘believing’ thing alive in him. Why? Because believing gives him hope, it pulls his heart up and forward. Because it gives him a reason to look at what’s in front of him and not behind him. Believing makes the kid look toward his future, while knowing his past is what and why and how he is here with me now. The kid is not forgetting his dad or his fur siblings at all, but he’s not letting the past drag him down into an Eeyore-like gloomy funk anymore.
Most kids have both parents and their extended families nearby. My kid only has me.
Most kids have not experienced losing loved ones yet. Most of them, have not lost most of their immediate family members within a few years. My kid has lost his dad and his two fur siblings, and the two fish.
I’m sure other kids have gotten it much worse.
But this is my kid, and this kid has me, and I’ll do everything in my power to bring as much happiness to my kid as I can. If that means getting seven Christmas trees in the house, then so be it. If that means going all the way up to the North Pole for a ride on the Polar Express and meet Santa Claus and the elves, then so be it. If that means visiting two Santa Clauses in town, then so be it. If that means, keeping up the elves on the shelf and their pet reindeers in the house, then so be it. If it means keeping the believing magic alive and give him some earthly hope, then this mama will do that and then some!
And yes, my kid knows what Christmas means very well, regardless of all of the above. The kid knows the reason of Christmas is Jesus and whenever the ‘can I open a Christmas present’ question pops up, I make him stop and tell me about Mary & Joseph and how Jesus was conceived and how He was born in a barn and how his birth is way more important than presents or anything else. He believes in God, and he has Jesus in his heart, and he has it in his heart to serve God.
Did all of the above take his gloominess away? It seems like it, so have I succeeded? It did! The kid went into a few downs but when he told me he had to snap out of it, I felt my job was done. The scout elves sent a good report to Santa and the kid was put on the nice list, and got lots of gifts from Santa and mama and grandparents and aunts and uncles.
I believe the kid will be alright. Tonight when praying, the kid told God he was thankful for being with his mama. That folks, is all that matters to me.