‘Happy’ Holidays Look Different for All Families

As a Principal the holiday season brings a lot of emotions for staff, students, families and community members.  We do our best to remain even keel, calm and structured.  I try to remain supportive, neutral and encouraging for those students who may not always be as excited about a break as their peers-while sharing in the excitement with others about their evening adventures with Elf on the Shelve or the Polar Express.

As a parent the holidays bring-as my son calls them-happy tears for me.  As on December 23rd, 2011 I walked off an international plane with this guy in my arms….

What this picture doesn’t show is the months, and months of waiting….court delays and meeting with officials here in the United States and Ethiopia to finally bring this boy home.  So as a mom the holidays for me bring memories of a long journey for a mom to find her son and a Christmas miracle.

As newly adopted 5 year old in a whole new world (including snow!) the holidays were overwhelming for him to say the least.  I can not imagine what he thought flying across the world and experiencing such a shift in culture in such a sort time.  That first year we didn’t have a tree and spent the holidays very low key as a new family of four navigating a life we never expected to happen.  I look back, almost four years later, and think about how hard that first holiday was.  Attempting to explain everything with visuals and trying to experience things from his perspective was exhausting for all of us.  Even now we have good days and tough days-but never one regret for the amazing journey he has taken us on.

The holidays can be hard on our family, especially Isaiah.  More than half of his life and experiences are in a country far away from here.  In America he is celebrating with toys, movies and gifts-when the family he left in Africa is not.  Now our Facebook posts and Christmas cards show the joy and excitement of the season-but behind the scenes we also work hard to make time to remember the ‘happy’ and ‘not so happy’ tears of the season for our family.

On December 23rd our family of four is heading back to the airport.  Each year we make a trip back to the international arrival gate and talk through the events of the day he came home.  As a Principal and a parent I encourage you to take a breath, take a moment, and be your best self for each and every child during the season.

after the airport 1After the airport 2after the airport 3after the airport 4

After the Airport December 23rd, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014

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