|At my house|
There is no way to avoid...Christmas, the holidays, Hanukkah, Kwanza, no matter what religion you are and what your beliefs are. For mothers who relinquished their child for adoption, for individuals who were relinquished, Christmas is always full of reminders of whom is missing around the table, but never far from our thoughts. Reasons why do not matter. We live with the present.
A litany of my Christmases: The tearful family dinners before I told my family I had a daughter and gave her up for adoption.The ones just as bad when I didn't know where she was. And then, after I found her, the year she wasn't talking to me. The first year after she died, two weeks before Christmas.
|American Hotel in Sag Harbor|
Or: The state of Wisconsin found her, she's in her seventies and doesn't want contact. Not only do I hope to meet her someday, I could really use some medical history...my son has fill-in-the-blanks and it's not from his father's side of the family.
Or: My son/daughter hasn't talked to me for several years and I wonder, do I send a card? Can I call? Send him a message on Facebook?
Or: You are a first mother celebrating with your family and no one mentions the lost member of the family because--really, it's painful for them too. But as the mother who lost the child, you have the option, and even the right, to bring her up. The person who hears you say something may in fact be the individual your lost son or daughter contacts first. You don't want a reunion quashed because you never said anything, and your brother/aunt/sister/cousin/father thinks you don't want to be reminded. The holidays, when many members of the family are likely to be around, would be a perfect time to bring up a topic long denied. Though I am not sure I would wait until dinner to do so.
Or: You the adoptee are celebrating with the only family you have ever known, and sit there with people who look nothing like you, and you can't help wondering: Where is my other family? I'm here, but sometimes I feel alone and like a stranger. Who are they? Who is my mother, my real mother--can I even think that?--and what is she doing today? Does she ever think about me? You may love the mother and father and siblings you know, but that doesn't quash down where you might be,who you might be, on Christmas if you had been kept.
The list goes on of how the missing member of the family resounds at this time of year.
|Collection of essays by|
the adoption triad.
I made plans with other people whose families were far flung or absent. You may think it's too late, but really, it's not if you are reading this tonight. There are other lonely people out there, and by cheering them up, you'll find that you will feel less sad too. If a holiday meal is out of the question, go to the movies--with someone or alone. If you have never been to the movies on Christmas, you'll be surprised to find that the theaters are full. Not everyone is celebrating Christmas. I've seen many a movie on Christmas Day. However, DO NOT PICK MOVIES YOU KNOW WILL MAKE YOU CRY. Or is there a Christmas event or concert somewhere near you might attend?
If you like to exercise, and the weather permits, start the day with a morning run. It is amazing how that can energize you and lift your spirits, even if only for a while. But on Christmas, even a while is good.
If you can't find anybody to be with, try to find a place you can volunteer. I remember seeing the movie "Brooklyn" around this time of the year, and on the first holiday the star (Saoirse Ronan) is in America, she ends up serving at a parish soup kitchen. Someone gets up and sings a haunting Irish song that had the roots of Enya in it. It is a good way to get through the day. A first mother friend of mine has found one soup kitchen--of course they are serving more than soup on Christmas--or another and done this for many years. I know she walks away feeling less bereft, less lonely at the end of the day.
|Cherubs on the credenza|
And most of all, remember this: Christmas is only one day. One day. Surely you can survive that. Put on music you like, cry if you must (been there, done that). As for the conundrums above, there is no single answer.Write the letter if your heart tells you to. Make the phone call if you really really want to. Send a message. But tell yourself that there may be no response. We can only control what we do, we can't dictate what others do.
Do I miss my daughter at this time of the year? Of course I do. After 26 years of an often unpredictable, topsy-turvy relationship, and living with the demons that she had, she committed suicide on December 12, 2007. Of course I miss her, even as I tell myself that her unhappiness was chronic, that in death she found the peace that eluded her in life. Yet of course I miss her still.
I have one granddaughter I will call on Christmas--she's going to visit her step-dad. I have another, given up for adoption by her mother, I won't phone. After my daughter's death I reached out to her through the state of Wisconsin, and ultimately we connected. We had an initial time of good vibrations, but we have not been in touch for several years. A rather nasty essay she wrote about White Liberal Women who relinquish has been taken off the internet, but attacks by someone who knows her in the comments section after a story about hole in my heart remain, and are likely to into infinity. So be it.
After so much time has passed, I am numb about this, and her. Adoption hurts and those comments, and that angry essay, are testament to that.The huge difference between my feelings about my daughter and her is: I did not give her up. I tried to talk my daughter out of doing so. She was not in my body. Time and distance has dulled whatever ache I once felt.
|Sunset tonight with tree lace, 4:24 p.m.|
No one gets away easy.
These simple words have been a guide post for me: The people who want to be in your life will be. You don't have to go chasing after them. So, love the people you are with. Love and appreciate your friends and whatever family you have. Focus on them, not on what you do not have, and may never have.
So, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or whatever holiday you are celebrating. The pagans celebrated the winter solstice, which is today. And that, Dear Reader, is the origin of the "Christmas" tree. And after today, the daylight will begin being longer, a few seconds by few seconds every day.
No one can make our troubles magically go away, but let me share with you a song I heard some years ago Nashville that I found particularly poignant and made me count my friends, my husband, family, my blessings.--lorraine