About Me

 

 The greatest thing we can do is to show up for our lives and not be ashamed.

 -Anne Lamott

 

I'm a creature of the word, learning to tell my honest story.

I offer it here because telling stories is the road back home.

Motherhood is not a biological designation
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« A letter to my therapist | Main | Christmas is a kill joy. »
Monday
Dec242012

Being adopted at Christmastime

 

(I wrote this post one year ago, one month after our house fire)...
Michael's voice on the other end of the line, fighting back tears, asking me to bring the kids up to school as soon as possible, that there was something there we had to see.
It was 3 pm, the beginning of the Christmas holiday, and when we got there, the halls were empty-until we reached Mrs. Ragland's classroom,
where we saw this.

 

At least fifty students, waiting around on their Christmas break- waiting with cameras out, cell phones ready to document our reactions to this incredible surprise.

Their faces so joyful, so expectant, before they even knew how we would react.

I started crying instantly, hugging the door frame, shaking my head back and forth- what do you say in the face of such unexpected, overwhelming love?

I had to kneel.
I wanted to look up at these faces beaming down on me.
How can one stand in the face of such undeserved abundance?

Tears were rolling down Michael's cheeks.
He looked straight at the mass of students, eyes spilling over, and told them thank you, you guys are the best, you guys are the gift.

That's my husband: a teacher, in the best, most beautiful, sense of the word.

 


Then he got tackled.

 

 


The kids freaked out.

 

Michael said it's been like The Truman Show at school; apparently everyone else was in on the plan to adopt our family for Christmas.
Everyone but Michael...which is extra ironic since my hubbins has snooped out every single present I've ever gotten for him.

This whole idea was thought up by Mrs. Ragland and her FCCLA and FBLA groups.
She decided that we would take the place of their annual adopt a family Christmas initiative.

 

The surprise was set up as an after-school club luncheon, teachers invited. 
As soon as Michael heard the words fried chicken he was sold.  
The whole week leading up to the luncheon, he was anxiously awaiting a yummy meal.  

Earlier that day Michael was in Mrs. Ragland's room with the gifts and believed they were for someone else.
He was disappointed that he did not "know about this" because he would have given a gift too.

 

 

 

He starts telling me the stories: one student babysat two weekends in a row to make the money to buy us a gift; one student worked overtime; students found rides to stores so they could pick out presents for our kids...they'd been accumulating, and hiding, gifts for weeks.

I can't stop staring at these faces.

Even now, looking again at these pictures, I want to know the stories.

What it's like to live behind their eyes, inside their skin.

I imagine, walking past one of these students at the mall, or even in the school hallway, you'd overlook, judge, write off, turn away- high school kids have a bad rap these days: self-centered, jaded, going nowhere, rude, ungrateful...

I can't stop thinking,


Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

What do we know about what it's like to be a teenager in today's world?
Why are we so quick to judge?


They are, all of them, beautiful souls.
Beautiful beating hearts, just longing to be loved; and given a chance to love in return, they are extravagant.

 


One guy, a big scary dude, offers me chicken nuggets, tells me they're the good kind, not the school cafeteria kind- then he shows me the drawer in the freezer where the extras are kept, tells me I can take the whole bag home.

 

He gets plates of pizza for my boys, tells me he's the manager of a local fast food chain, that we can come in anytime we want, anytime we want.




The girls feed Kyrie, sing songs with her, pull out a chair for me to sit, bring me soda with ice in a plastic cup.

 

I feel, I don't know how to describe the level of humility, like I'm turned inside out- all my insides exposed, I'm a weepy mess.


Why are they giving to us, like this?

 

We are the adopted family?

We're getting to see the best of people's hearts, this is the most precious gift of all, the rawness of people's hearts, the beauty of the humanness.

 

Seeing these students' faces, being the recipient of their love-one student wrapped up maybe six or seven stuffed animals, all smelling like her perfume-Malachi sleeps with the little doggie every night.

Students picked out Legos and Spiderman and Pillow Pets, dolls for Kyrie, little electronic pianos, clothes for Phoenix, binkies and teethers.

The fashion merchandising class sewed a Handy Manny pillow and blanket for Phoenix.

 

 

I can tell you, that the only possible thing to say is thank you, and then to do my best to let these students teach me about love.

 

I have never seen this many presents under one tree.

Long after the kids grow out of their gifts, long after some break or are lost, or find their way to the bottom of the toy box,

 

we will remember the gift of love, the Christmas we were adopted.

 

 

-a repost from January 25th, 2012

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Reader Comments (2)

Beautiful, wonderful story. The imago dei, alive and well in your community... praise the Lord!

January 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCara

I wish I could make it through just one of your posts without crying. How wonderful a gift this was. I think it's so important to remember that everyone is, indeed, fighting a battle. Treat everyone with that knowledge and the world is a better place for it.

January 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLauren Udwari

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