It’s that time of year again when families decorate Christmas trees, kids write lists for Santa, and parents place those Elf on a Shelf dolls in crazy poses around the house and take photos to post on Facebook or Instagram. As someone who loves the holidays–I mean, really loves them–I yearn to create Christmas magic for my own children. As much as my husband and I enjoy our holidays together, this time of year has been tinged with moments of sadness for me the past few years. There have been no excited shrieks at our house on Christmas morning. No cookies left with milk by the fireplace on Christmas Eve. And no Elf on a Shelf taking some “me time” in a Lego beauty parlor or enjoying a soak in a marshmallow hot tub.
Last year was particularly difficult. We were trying to get pregnant and I was in the midst of an acupuncture, vitamin and clean-living regimen. Every month I was getting my hopes way up and then being absolutely shattered by the reality of yet another negative pregnancy test. I was drinking whole milk on the advice of my acupuncturist, not drinking wine and not eating any sugar. I wasn’t running or breaking any kind of a sweat in fear that it would hurt our chances. I was gaining weight (not exercising and drinking whole milk will do that to you) and feeling pretty terrible about myself in general. I was making Jamie take crazy supplements, eat kale and abstain from this and that and the other thing. I was so serious about everything. I was pretty miserable, truth be told.
And then December came in with a flurry of reminders that everyone I knew either had a child, was expecting one or was expecting another. Everyone but me, it seemed, was preparing to dazzle their children with yet another magical Christmas. Everywhere I looked, all I saw were parents getting kids excited for Christmas. The worst part? Those Elf on a Shelf photos and all that fun everyone else seemed to be having. For some reason, those pictures became the manifest of all my pain last year. Seeing all of the creative ways people were using that silly elf to spin imaginative Christmas tales for their kids (something I was dying to do) broke my heart anew every morning. Why couldn’t I have what all of my fortunate friends and family have? I desperately wanted someone to put an elf on a shelf for. It wasn’t fair. And it hurt.
So, here we are again, with an empty nest and Christmas fast approaching. But what a difference a year makes. I’m still not holding a baby and I never did manage to get pregnant, but I am a much different person in a much different place. We are marching confidently toward adoption and I know–with certainty–that there is a baby in our near future. That’s a brand new feeling for me and I cannot tell you how healing it has been. Adoption, and having a husband as enthusiastic about it as I am, has been a life-changing gift (and we haven’t even been matched yet!). I have come so far from where I was last year, and I am so happy and relieved that we are not trying to get pregnant right now. I’m so incredibly thankful that excruciating chapter of my life is over.
Instead of feeling pangs of envy and sadness when I see happy families with excited little kids, I am content to know that will be us soon. Instead of the holiday season reminding me of the precious little one we don’t have, it is reminding me how fortunate we are to be in a position to adopt and how rich and full life is about to get. And instead of shedding a tear every time I see a fun Elf on a Shelf picture on Facebook, I can just hit “like” and smile, knowing I, too, will soon be posting elf pics of my own.