Christmas 2010December 28, 2010 by Victoria Strong The last few days have been really special...emotional. Seeing Gwendolyn fully embrace the excitement, the rituals, the stories that surround Christmas simply leaves us weak at the knees. We want nothing more than for our little girl to feel happy and included -- and she did in a big way.
We started the festivities on Christmas Eve morning with a full puppet/theater performance of Gwendolyn's favorite Christmas books by two super incredible teens and Gwendolyn was riveted! Thank you K and H for being so wonderful!When Gramma arrived we baked cookies, put in extra special love (and chocolate chips), and packaged them up for our local fire station...and, of course, for Santa. We then went on a late afternoon stroll to deliver the cookies to the fire department, meet our neighbors new darling baby boy, and look at the neighborhood lights. When we got home we sat by the Christmas tree and got Santa's special plate of goodies ready. Gwendolyn was very, very serious about writing Santa a note this year. She actually seemed a bit stressed over it (poor sweetie), but she helped craft a very nice letter wishing Santa safe travels and gently reminding him what a good girl she has been . It was just so darn adorable to see Gwendolyn soooo excited about everything, clinging to our every story about Christmas and believing every detail! (And she fell right to sleep after I told her that Santa wouldn't come if she was awake -- mean Mommy, but it worked ).
When she woke up in the morning, she was beyond excited. Chatty, eyes big, ready to go! We walked down the stairs and she immediately noticed her stocking was not in its usual spot on the mantle. We sat by the fire to read Santa's note -- all the while her eyes were scanning, searching and taking everything in. And she was a very happy little girl when she spied her stocking filled to the brim and a big Nemo doll by its side. We spent the morning opening and playing with new toys, having a tea party with her new Olivia tea set, reading new books, trying on new clothes and squealing excitedly by fast and crazy unwrapping. And before nap time Gramma brought in her gift -- a lifesize mini horse! Yes, life size! Actually I think this new stuffed friend is bigger than the real life Little Star. And Gwendolyn was delighted!!! She has been loving riding on his back, petting him, and hearing his noises -- he gallops and neighs. (Gwendolyndid not like our name suggestions and did not want to be rushed, but decided the next day to name him "Sunshine," which I think is very Gwendolyn!)
Surprisingly Gwendolyn went down for her nap with ease -- unwrapping is a lot of work! And when she woke up we had an extra special treat....Santa came to visit!!! Her eyes were humongous as she heard him stomping up the stairs ho, ho, hoing and she was in utter disbelief when he walked into her bedroom with an extra little toy. She wasn't scared at all. In year's past, Santa has always figured out a way to visit (funny how that works). The first year we were in the hospital, the next year is here, and last year is here (although for some reason there isn't a picture of her with Santa). And each year, my heart fills and I just love seeing Gwendolyn get to have this special experience. (Big thank you to Uncle R for (uh-hem) calling in those connections. )
Seeing Gwendolyn smile all day long means more to me than anything. Seeing her laugh and feel special and be an excited three year old is beyond explanation.But, I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit that even in the midst of joy there is a pang of sadness. It comes with the season (it has for me every year if you read old posts here and here). The simple truth is we have far too many friends in the SMA world who no longer have their children in their arms. And as much as I try to stay in the moment, the many traditions of Christmas also make my mind...my heart...wander to thoughts of the future...thoughts of how many more will we get to have and how will we without our little girl. Thoughts that no parent should have to contemplate as they watch their child fall asleep after a big Christmas day. And so we hold on to every giggle, every smile, every moment and relish in our little girl's joy knowing we are very blessed.