Christmas burdened? Know why? Discussion.

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Star*, Dec 19, 2007.

  1. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Hi family,

    For those of you who have Christmas Spirit, for those of you who have nothing left, For our children who can’t seem to cope with the anticipation of a self-inventory from past behaviors vs. presents under the tree, shortness of days, change in daily routines and even the fallout of our own parental guilt feelings during this time of year – Hugs.

    The task given to us as parents of challenged children certainly isn’t for the weak. Remember at this time of year to pat yourself on the back for the good that you do all year long – not just as an elf wishing to make dreams come true. Take time to make a dream of your own a reality if possible. Don’t become overburdened with commercialism or a Rockwell portrait – Do the best you can, it’s all anyone ever needs from you – really!! Really!!

    I think in our minds whether we want to admit it or not we keep score all year with our kids’ behaviors. Then the holidays come and we say "Okay ALL is forgiven, we’ll wipe the slate clean - HERE are a bunch of gifts I got you because I love you and you." And what you are thinking is "YOU treated me like :censored2:, but IT is okay - you have a disability." If we do this are we perpetuating the cycle? Or do we expect a different result, ever hopeful with every holiday?

    For most it seems Christmas is the big Kahunah of holidays –and falls at the end of the year, a time for forgiving, reflecting, making personal changes and promises for a new and better year. So at what point as parents do we make our children accountable for THEIR actions? At what time in the year do you make them take responsibility for their actions? Give Christmas, but take away Fourth of July, lessen a birthday because it fell the same week he /she suspended from school or do you just say “The gifts are gifts and he/she will get them regardless. Or is it your understanding that this mentally ill person can't change some behaviors and you agree to accept that for life?

    If you are in the party that says irregardless of his behaviors I'm giving gifts!!? Then do it with no regrets. What I learned this year in therapy was - that's fine - But don't bring it up later in the year as some unforeseen regret, or as a tool to drive a point home with your child. Like "I GOT YOU ALL THOSE PRESENTS and this is how you treat me?" OH brother - Either give or don't but don't be a martyr. THAT itself is almost difficult child behavior. You knew there was a potential for your child to behave inappropriately after the gifts were given – so deal with it. Nothing has changed. Why act so surprised?

    We need to remember those parents who don’t have a child at home due to being in a hospital, Residential Treatment Center (RTC) or jail. Many, many sad years I have spent in cinder block conference rooms with a pathetic looking tree and behavior posters for decorations. Only to have staff look at a toy – maybe a hearts desire and say “Sorry that will have to go back with you; it could be a weapon.” Biting the inside of my lip as hot tears streaked my face when we left thinking his dinner would be a bologna sandwich and chips, instead of ham. But we left difficult child there - doing what we were told would give difficult child a better chance – sacrificing our holidays over and over in hopes that the placement would be the one that makes the difference and helps difficult child change for the better. Then thinking in the back of my mind - NEXT year will be HUGE!

    Those of you who have lost a child to death and would welcome any of our problems just to have your child for one minute this year -Because of you I realize that there are far worse things than bad behavior, and a Christmas in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC)’s, jail, or fallout from a much wanted traditional holiday. Because of you I feel selfish for believing I have any problems.

    What happens if you are poor? What happens if you are sick and can’t keep up traditions? What do you believe really happens if you had a celebration without presents? Are you hoping to ensure better behavior? Do you expect nothing in return? Are you still keeping score? I wonder personally where I lost sight of the true meaning for celebrating. This year I vow to focus on that. Thankful for what I have, not for what I think I'll get.

    If you think it's not a good idea to reward bad behavior with a party, celebration and gifts – at anytime of the year why do we make exceptions? When we stop making exceptions does that make us bad people? Or are we simply too worn out with the day to day behaviors we deal with that we fake it through another occasion so we can say we are normal – (whatever normal is) , if even for one day.?

    Have we all gotten to a point with our society that the only way our children know we love them is if we buy them LOTS of stuff? How about the love I give all year long when I stand and support you for knowing better, but making poor choice after poor choice? I’d actually consider writing congress in an effort to have a parents day – but I’m afraid it would be just one more celebration I’d be forced to withhold due to bad behaviors and thus stick myself in the eye with a fork.

    I hope for those of you considering giving up – you find time to recoup and reflect on your true meaning of the Christmas holiday. I hope for those of you who say “I hate” you find love. I hope those of you who feel you are without- feel blessed, and I hope that those of you who are hurting find comfort from this board and it’s members.

    I wish you a very Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Holiday – however you choose to celebrate it. I wish you peace, joy , and love.

  2. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    Merry Christmas Star---glad to have YOU back!
  3. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    Your post made me cry, Star.
  4. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    All right Star, I'll send you some crickets, er cookies...

    beautifully said, beautifully spoken, but the real meaning of Christmas is love so anyway you slice it, you're celebrating it anyway!

  5. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Merry Christmas to you Beachcomber!
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Oh Star...that was so touching.

    I truly believe as the kids grow up that they do eventually mature into figuring out some of things we have been trying to knock into their heads.

    I have never been able to handle Christmas well probably due to my own issues. Its a difficult time for me. I tried to fake it for the boys sake when they were little but normally failed miserably. Now that they are adults, they are the ones that attempt to comfort and support me. How is that for a turn around? LOL. Even Cory. He can surprise you once in awhile.

    Once they grow up things do change...even with troubled kids they can be a real pleasure sometimes.

    (Maybe I am being lulled into complacency by the smell of bacon and eggs that Cory is cooking for me right now...lmao)
  7. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Beautiful, Star. As always
  8. Marcie Mac

    Marcie Mac Just Plain Ole Tired

    Star - Its very difficult for me to even open a pondering Xmas and should we cancel it or not post.

    One Christmas I was warned if I didn't behave and bring home a good report card, I wouldn't be celebrating any Christmas festivities. True to form, I had an absolutely horrible report card and well qualified, due to my lack of impulse control, for a hugh bag of coal.

    I know I was at least 11 or 12. I got to sit there while all of the family was opening presents, sitting there watching everybody opening with much delight the much wanted toys. No one in the family acknowledged I even sat there, although I overheard one of my aunts telling my mother that this was so not right to do. Towards the end of the evening, my mother threw the house keys at me and said my presents were down in the basement. I remember walking the few blocks to my house, down to the cellar, and finding a few little things that were not even wrapped.

    Was there a lesson learned - absolutely. Out of all of my childhood christmas's, this is the only one that would forever be burned in my memory. The point was driven home with deadly accurracy that I would forever be different than everyone else in my family, that no matter how hard I would try, it would never count for anything. It was just one of many "lessons" that would reinforce my alienation from my family, my belief that I would never be "good enough" so screw it, why even try.

    It was little solice that later in life I would learn that I had ADHD and suffered from learning disabilities on top of it. I remember having a good old sob fest after the results - it felt really freeing because I had taught myself to never cry over anything after that xmas.

    I vowed to myself I would never ever ever make my kids feel that way because of behaviors that were not in their control - they would feel included and loved even if it was with underwear and socks on this holiday that is all about love and family - there would be no tainting of this one day out of the year due to my frustration on how they were behaving.

  9. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    Unconditional Love=loving someone warts and all. I know our difficult children have lots of warts. Sometimes I don't like mine very much. There are times I don't like my easy child's either. But, I always love them. I always let them know. Christmas, to me, is a show of that love. Not so much in the gifts, but in the spirit of giving.
    Often, I think, our expectations for how someone else should behave overrides our understanding that we have little or no control over someone else. Whether I celebrate the holidays or not doesn't hurt my difficult child---it hurts me. It takes away the joy I feel from the giving of self.
    I am willing to give of things the same way I am willing to give of my love---unconditionally. I give because I want to give---not out of obligation, the same as I don't take away out of punishment for not living up to my expectations of "good."
    I am not saying that I let difficult child reign in holy terror---ever. But, I certainly don't let it impact my own emotions to the point that I give up the things I love--one being Christmas---gifts and all.
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    So true about that unconditional love. Tony and I were pondering just that subject on the long drive home from Jamie's this past weekend.

    Cory has been such a difficult child to raise and I am completely sure that he feels that we dont love him as much as we do the other two. That is very far from the truth. There is nothing in this world that we want more than for him to find his own path in life. It doesnt have to be what we think would be good for him or what would make us happy but something that would make him feel good about himself. I cannot believe that a person can feel good about themselves if they are constantly in trouble with the law. I simply dont believe it. I do believe he can find that inner strength to rise above his demons. It just may take time. We will be as proud of him then if he is digging ditches for a living as we are of Jamie. We love him anyway...we just have to get around to liking some of his actions eventually.
  11. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Wow.......major tears. I just don't even know what to say.

    I know Cmas is so hard for us, and our kids. Last night my difficult child was balling because of some gifts given to him, and the fact that he did not "deserve them". This in response to me being oh so frustrated with his laziness, and voicing this to him in what I am sure was a rather demeaning tone. Yet, I as well, still feel guilty when my mom gives me a gift.

    Marcie - My dad had an identical story when he was 12. He was/is a very dysfunctional father - but because of the coal, and his behavior - he always made sure he showed us unconditional love, every cmas. For that I am thankful.

    I think presents and cmas should not be in the same category. Cmas is about showing the love we always have and will have for our family.......and sometimes that embodies a present.......and sometimes it embodies simply being together. Kids lump it all together when they are young.....but I can tell you right now that I remember few presents I received - but I do remember that I have always had my family on cmas.

    Wow, now I am crying again. My dad has cancer, and I do not know if he will be here next you said.........we need to seize every moment of time we can cherish with our family. Regardless of behaviors.
  12. I think that Christmas is hard for almost everyone I know.Still, I can't bear to part with it! I can definitely identify with Marci Mac. The year that I was 13 my brother died and the rug was pulled out from under my family. My parents ended up splitting up and there was really no Christmas for us that year - not the usual tree and holiday dinner. I got a dictionary for my Christmas gift. Don't get me wrong, I did use and appreciate the dictionary - but after my Christmases of years past it all just seemed so cold and lonely.

    This wasn't really about things, it was about people and the brokeness of our family. I have celebrated Christmas the best way I could every year since that year. Although we have had disappointing times with our boys some years, Christmas is always, always special. No dictionaries :smile: , a tree, a dinner, Christmas music (even though the boys think it's cheesy and rag me about it), and plenty of togetherness. I think it's the small things and the traditions that are important to us all.
  13. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Marcie, Your words are beyond inspirational.
    Thank you for finding the courage to post. I wanted to tell you what I took from YOUR post.

    If you had ever hoped that something in your life made a difference in another child's life - know today that it did. I think a lot of people who are wanting to put the holidays on hold were just forever changed by what you so eloquently wrote. This was exactly the purpose for the post - to help, to heal, to discuss, and to take what you can from it and maybe go away feeling a little better, perhaps even good enough to change a heart in less than a week.

    Thanks Marcie - Thank you very much.
  14. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    The celebration of Christmas has never been about dollars in my
    family, even though there were more than enough dollars when I was a child. For the 47 years I have been a parent it has been
    about "our family" traditions. I have always believed that how
    "your" families celebrates is more important than what you
    gives a sense of continutity. No matter the ages, behaviors, finances or circumstances "our family" has a "real tree" that is
    decorated with old school projects as well as a handful of very
    old WWII ornaments from when I was a baby. We have "ding dong
    bells" that "always" go on the outside light. We have a "real
    wreath" on the front door. We have stockings that are filled
    with magazines and silly stuff. We take turns opening presents
    and everyone watches..and then the pj clad recipient gets up and
    gives a thank you hug to the giver of the gift. After all the
    gifts husband makes a calories laden, artery clogging brunch and we all eat until we need a nap. LOL!

    On the phone tonight easy child/difficult child (incarcerated still and with-o cause)
    asked me "Mama, are the ding dong bells up on the post lamp?"
    "Are you putting the special ornaments up high where my little
    sister can't accidentally break them?" "Will you bake Xmas cookies with her like you always did with me and difficult child..because that is important even if our Mom doesn't understand that."

    He won't BE home. It truly makes us sad. on the other hand, in his mind he
    IS home for the holiday because he "knows" exactly what "his family" does every single Christmas. There were no questions
    about presents because he is our child...he knows that is not
    what "our" Christmas is about.

    Keep it simple, everyone. Enjoy the good moments of the holiday
    and try to erase the not so good. Ready or not..."your family"
    will be celebrating soon and new momories will be formed. DDD
  15. Im a Believer

    Im a Believer New Member

    Burdened - YES, but not sure what to do about it, other than be a "grinch".

    My children grew up with traditions at Christmas and there wasn't alot of money so overdoing it really wasn't an issue.

    Now that I am remarried and the reality of a very disfunctional first marriage has taken havoc on my children and my life with them - our celebrations of any holiday have changed.

    Not all, but espcially my difficult child #2 has not spent a holiday with me in several years. We will make plans for her and her husband to come for dinner and they ALWAYS cancel on me last minute but are in town to stop by and say hi (and pick up their gifts).

    by the way ~ It is always only my daughter - not hubby - and she doesn't even sit down - she allows a picture to be taken of her and I for her scrapbook, grabs the goods and goes.

    I have decided this year to not buy for them and if asked I will express my desire to start new traditions by the age old idea of spending time with one another.

    I am concerned because my difficult child #2 is due to deliver my first grandchild in February and fear being alienated from my grandchild but you guys are all doing a good job educating me ~

    I have to take care of me ~
  16. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Those were the words I needed. Christmas has left my heart this year as my easy child is currently locked in the psyc ward. I haven't been posting I can't help or support anyone when I'm this much of a mess. I went through alll the motions, decorations, tree, etc.. presents but I was feeling as though how can I enjoy this when he is having such a hard time??? From this moment on.... I'm just gonna let myself enjoy. The thing is, my difficult child is the godsend in this ordeal. He's helping easy child more than anything or anyone. I'm going to put on some Christmas music and have my coffee. Peace to all.

    DDD, Marcie Mac, and everyone..thank you for the insight.- Alyssa
  17. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    As you all know, I'm a Christmas NUT. I truly love this holiday, always have, hopefully always will. To me, Christmas was never conditional on past behavior. Not even behavior 10 minutes ago. Christmas was a chance to show my love. Not just my love for my child but my love for our Lord, my friends, neighbors, strangers.

    I don't have much right now, so material things are out of the question. Heck, I couldn't even participate in the board's Xmas card exchange because of funds but trust me when I say my heart is with all of you. However, there are things I can do. I can use all my scraps of wool and make a cute hat and purse. I can use my fabric paints and make a special t-shirt for a friend. I can go Mickey D's and buy some gift certificates and give them to the homeless so they can at least have a cup of coffee. I can volunteer to help with the Salvation Army, the local food kitchen, SPCA, etc.

    To me, Christmas is more than just gifts or even forgiveness. It is a celebration of life. A time to thank our Lord for giving us his son. A time to thank those around us for their little acts of kindness. So, may this Christmas bring each and every one of us a little bit of joy regardless of our trials and tribulations.
  18. Mayapple5

    Mayapple5 New Member

    Thank you Star and everyone for making me see that I have been selfish. This is the season to give, not only what we can monetarily but from our heart. I don't even have the money to give my husband a gift but I can give from my heart and let my family know how much I love them by getting in the spirit. So I will turn on the music and turn my frowns to smiles and gt my energy levels up a bit and laugh more and find more time to sit and read to difficult child and call my friends instead of sending those cards out.

    All the posts have been very touching and have made me realize just how blessed I am. thank you. I had a wonderful upbringing, my dad has always been a matrialistic person we made out a list and got everything plus some, and there were four us us kids! I wasn't able to do that for my kid. ever! We have a very limited budget, we get two maybe three things they have on their list, but we give them lots and lots of love and our time, more than I got from my dad!

    Thanks everyone!
    Merry Christmas and God bless everyone
  19. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    There was a time when I had the grand Christmas ritual. Now, with all the kids gone, no more. I don't find the time, energy or money to get into it.

    The only 2 things I did do was the card exchange, which I LOVE, and donating some time at Father Carr's. He was an amazing human.

    So, I'm not a real popular person in my large WI family circle right now. They are in the 'spririt' 1000% and I'm opting to stay out and do it my own way. Oh well. I will get 10X the happiness serving meals with my daughter than opening gifts. She's cool with that. Maybe that is our new tradition.

    by the way - I think the card thingy is so cool. I would love to see it happen multiple times a year, not just Christmas. It's so nice to open your mailbox and see a letter there. For those who are financially challenged (gee...isn't that a proper way to put that?) it could be an email.

    Love you guys, and Merry Christmas in your own way.

  20. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Marcie, your words are powerful with the consequences of actions that may be meant as life lessons. It's a warning to me, who can be a no nonsense mom.
    As a mom, I hope to do no harm and that the boys know despite the constant nagging and consequence that I am their safe place. This is home and if they want to be here the door is open at Christmas of if they need a place to just take a small respite from a tough world.
    I get great pleasure and satisfaction serving my children, family and friends. It's a great deal of cooking, baking and giving on my part. It's my gift to them and not boxes and bows. I do not resent it one bit.
    I don't want to create a memory where they were tossed keys at the end of the day to find gifts in the basement.

    Marcie, I will be forever think of you as you fought off some bad guys for your difficult child son. You were tipped over in a hedge with high heels flailing but a true force to be reckoned with. What a different picture your kids have of you vs. what you have with your mom. Even though many times difficult child brought about the problems because of his impulsive behavior and crooked thinking.

    It's hard to imagine feeling grateful when a difficult child is disrespectful but I am grateful everyday that I have another day to hug or see improvement or to give solace to my child. The parents who have lost a child to difficult child behavior or accidents or crime will never have that hope. My heart goes out to them and then I remember to be more patient today than yesterday with difficult child.

    I'm not sure why there is a wide swing of attitudes about celebrating holidays Maybe it's the difficult child in ourselves and the wear and tear of everyday life or everyday life with a difficult child.

    I'm with Star, enjoy or not. Make your choice your own and don't begrudge those who go a different way. Life is so short. Make it the way you want. I am a person who is grateful to get up everyday.