|My youngest niece, Shaye, and Anabel opening a gift.|
However, that being said, we enjoyed several Christmas gatherings over the holidays. Of course, we had our private Christmas at home with just the immediate family.
Also, this year, we shared our home again with two special gals who are Wards of the State of Texas --- they will be with us for a couple of weeks, over their Christmas school break. During this time, these girls are treated just like one of our own kids. But, the truth is, they have so much more to deal with every day than the ordinary kid ever encounters. They are older, so they are already very independent, yet still such children needing to see that every household has their own set of problems, no family lives in fairy tale style, yet many households do not deal with the terrible things they have been subjected to in their own childhood home.
|At our house, Christmas morning. Stefie is Santa!|
Even so, these girls maintain the highest and best attitudes I've ever seen in a child who has encountered horrific abuse. They are always looking for the brightest angle to think about and they do not allow themselves to get bogged down in self-pity or raging anger, to which they'd be entitled. So, I admire these young girls with all my heart. Everyone in our family admires them.
Even so, every kid can do things to grate on your nerves and these kids are no exception. Especially the youngest with her urge to tell you the ending of a movie you have been wanting to watch. I've had to teach her that it's NOT COOL to be the joy-killer of a good plot you've been wanting to watch unfold.
Kids will be kids.
One day, these kids will be fantastic members of society and their wisdom will probably help many others along the way through life. As for my role, I encourage them to always move forward with the BEST of themselves displayed because any of us could use any excuse to share the worst side of ourselves. It's a choice. I'm thankful that these girls have maintained their sweet dispositions, in spite of hardships. They are easy to love, and I'm sure their mother misses them greatly.
As for Christmas parties, our first to attend this year was at the children's group home.
|Glorious moment of finding Jordache shoes in the box!|
I've been to several of these parties and they are BEYOND touching. They serve punch and cookies to the crowd and the kids sing beautiful Christmas songs that would melt anyone's chilly heart.
|The audience at the group home is ready and eager to see the|
kids' Christmas performance.
|Anabel is a main part of the Christmas play. |
She's wearing the red hat. So adorable! We are so proud!
|Brice and Stefie are standing next to Marisa and|
Anabel's gifts that had been donated to the Harbor.
As for that gymnasium full of gifts, those are donated by generous people and corporations from around the great city of Houston. These kids might have a difficult life, but their Christmas at this group home is beyond magical. However, I always feel tremendously sad for the kids who arrive to live at this group home the week after Christmas. They will struggle for the remainder of the year to find clothes and such.
|Anabel just unwrapped a pair of earrings she|
wanted with all her heart!
I had a wonderfully fun time while watching the girls open their many, many gifts, especially because they arrived at the group home with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
|Marisa is so happy to be getting simple things,|
but she won't complain about the new bike!
Then, we spent the next few days attending family parties.
So, I believe, for most people in the family, the four Christmas parties we attended were full of love and blessings to last all year long. After all, life is what you make of it. Besides, there is never a good excuse to not put your best foot forward, with love.
|This Christmas gift came just in time!|
If any part of your Christmas was sour for any reason, then try to focus on the sweet parts. It's the time of year that petty disputes should be set aside and the grander ideals of love and support for each other should be a priority. I guess that's why all of us must put up with odd family members, such as the Uncle Leroy who totes around his mail-order-bride as if he is a winner in the "love" department.
Just as I admire these two kids who no longer have a permanent home of their own, I admire my own two daughters who always take large leaps forward with bravery and honor, no matter the size of the wall they are approaching. My daughters are still young, yet they are definitely two of the STRONGEST and BRAVEST people I've ever known.
Like most parents expect...I hope my daughters make fewer mistakes than their parents! If each generation improves, that is beautiful! My mother wanted that great wish for me, and I want it for my own daughters. Do better! Live better. BE better!
By doing our BEST to reach for the highest behavior in any certain situation, we are already doing BETTER!
|The middle is my beautiful oldest niece and on either side|
are my two special kiddos staying with us over Christmas break.
The bonds with those treasures grow stronger every day and the future looks brilliant. So, life is made meaningful by focusing on those who have hearts that never cease to bloom. Some people are amazing like that...always ready to be the bigger person. My oldest daughter is one of those people who is willing to go the extra mile, even if she is not met half-way, she still keeps pace to do good in life and to overcome hurdles. She is setting a formidable example for others to follow, and she has earned my respect, my deep respect.
|Heather, my beautiful oldest daughter who|
made the long trip to Houston with her husband,
Henry, to celebrate with all of Heather's family.
This mother is very happy to spend time with her!
At Christmas time, as everyone opens their presents, you realize certain truths...you can't buy love, you can't demand it, you can't even "expect" it. Love is so grand that it can't fit into a box, but we do our best to express our feelings, especially at Christmastime.
Christmastime, along with other special occasions, gives families a chance to share the best of themselves. No matter what the hurdles have been throughout the year, these times give everyone a chance to reach out to each other and to those who keep reaching...I applaud you! It takes great strength and bravery to be the one who reaches out, without excuses to remain cold and detached.
The one who reaches out is the one who will walk away with a deep sense of satisfaction. Those people are the ones who are not afraid to live, to love and to enjoy the best of life.
Most parents understand this level of love. As a parent, you know your children, young and old, are going to do things that will make you hit the ceiling, but love is something that should remain solid. I've seen wonderful parents tell their kids that they don't agree with certain behaviors, yet they embrace their child and make sure to let them know that their love and patience will be endless. Frustration is a normal part of being in a family, but the important priority is to remain open and receptive.
For some families, there is destruction on a level that can't be repaired. For my regular readers, you know we have two great kiddos staying at our house for the holidays, but their "normal" home right now is at a group home. I am seeing that there are all kinds of parents, even some who make terrible destructive choices that impact the entire family, yet they still have a warped idea that their kind of "love" is an acceptable weapon.
No one wants to share space with someone who feels compelled to use love as a weapon. Indeed, those personality types will bounce from one person to the next in their love-weapon destructive behavior. Actually, these personality types can be very predictable and soon enough, people around them will no longer seek to receive this person's love because it is unstable and will eventually be used as a tool. The receivers of this "love" will eventually learn that there are some kinds of love that are harmful and certainly not a gift.
That brings me to a lesson I had been taught long ago...love without expectations, but keep healthy boundaries in place. It doesn't mean that you must give your LIFE to such people, but you CAN share your life with those who do their best to love in a healthy manner.
People who abuse love will not escape consequences, it does eventually catch up with them...I believe that wholeheartedly. The kids sharing our home have a family member who is warped in their attitude toward the meaning of "love." Regardless, in spite of the person who took these girls forgranted, these kids and their siblings DO have a BRIGHT future in store for them. The lack of healthy love in their life from one individual will not impact the other parts of their lives that are full of love.
Just like I tell the precious girls from the group home, there are some people who are so short-sighted that they cannot savor the best that life has to offer. Some people are so entrenched in their own misery that they must try to spread it around in order to find warped satisfaction. By these two gals already experiencing a person who has abused their love, they have learned that people who abuse love cannot be trusted.
|The two boys and the young man in the distance, sitting at the table, are|
all my nephews! Each one is so handsome, creative and intelligent.
Being a parent is wonderful, especially when you set the never-ending-example in showing the depth of love that is required of this most challenging position in life...yep, setting an example and demonstrating the depths of love...those would be the hallmarks of good parenting.
|Heather and Henry with Tux watching closely.|
It's a wine bottle chandelier!