Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Christmas 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2007 is now history. Brian's parents, my parents, my grandmother, my brother and his wife, and my uncle came to celebrate the holiday with us here, and it was a relatively relaxing, worry-free holiday. Unfortunately, this was preceded by three days of head-shattering migraine headache that kept me in a drug-induced stupor which very sadly failed to make a dent in the pain. As it turned out, my very last resort, a single muscle relaxant recommended by one of my best friends, loosened its death grip on me just before the holiday began, and I was finally able to prepare for the holiday and enjoy myself.

We all gathered around the tree to open presents after our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of hot clam chowder and bread, and Erik opened presents for the first time as if he had been doing it for years. This was the only time I felt close to being emotional about much of anything. I watched his meaty fingers find weaknesses in the festive paper and rip, exposing the colorful goodies inside. He cocked his head as he examined each gift, finding himself entranced by some of them, especially the book my mother made for him with photos of vehicles like the ones driven by the people he knows and loves.

Generally speaking, children with WS have little to no interest in toys most children find fascinating. Getting my kid to pretend play with toys is almost impossible unless there is a toy car with spinning wheels involved. Play sets collect dust in the closet or are packed up to take to the children at his school who cannot afford them. Thankfully, all of the gifts Erik received were wonderful with an obvious degree of thought about his personality and disorder behind them. When I sat down to read blogs yesterday, I was relieved to see that Tara and Bob, fellow WS parents, echoed a lot of my feelings about gifts and toys for our children. Tara explained that Dr. Mervis, a WS researcher at the University of Louisville, once told her, "Most children with WS do not play with toys. They watch their parents play with their toys." It's true, and it's one more reason I feel ripped off. However, Tara also explained that her daughter's joy is "about being surrounded by her family and unwrapping and tearing every piece of paper in sight." I found myself busy around the house at times I might feel sadness seeping in, and it didn't really touch me this holiday. On Christmas Day, my good china dishes emerged from their dark places in my cupboards, and the plates were soon heaped with a feast I had assistance preparing: Ham, turkey, cranberry salad, stuffing, green bean casserole, bread, and pies. My mother brought a tiny one-layer cake with her part of the feast, and after dinner we sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus, something that seemed a little strange while I planned the holiday but instantly became a brand new, natural tradition when I saw the amazed look on Erik's face as we all began to sing.

Last night Brian ran hot water into our jetted tub and added raspberry-vanilla bath salts, which smelled wonderful. We extinguished the lights and opened the blinds covering the windows around us that point towards the desert landscape. Light from the chunky bulbs of our twinkling Christmas lights that Brian strung along the rain gutters outside zipped around the house above us as the scented steam rose from the water's surface. I took a deep breath and realized that I successfully survived another holiday. I actually felt as if I had accomplished something. I realized that gatherings feel like work now. I feel like I am swimming against a strong current and am constantly laboring. I wonder if I will ever truly be able to relax and enjoy Christmas with the same trust that all will be perfect ever again, or if I will always be holding my breath waiting for the next wave of emotion to hit me. They will never be the same, but maybe holidays like this will be an adequate break in this crazy life to at least stop and count my blessings. The turkey, trimmings, and gifts seem sort of ridiculous to me now, but they are a welcome distraction and a big dose of what is deemed "normal" in this chapter of the American Dream. I guess could use a little more normal in each and every day. I just wonder if this new numbness I feel will ever subside. Maybe it's best that it does not.

Oh. Just one more thing. Santa brought me a Chia pet.

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Blogger Lisa R said...

We got Chia Donkey LOL...glad you all made it through the holidays in one piece! That bath sounds awesome

10:56 AM  
Blogger ~Deb said...

I hope with all the pain you went through it wasn't too unbearable. I hope you're still enjoy the holidays as much as you can! The photo is precious!


12:05 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Lol!!!!! That is funny!CH-ch-ch-chia!!
It's nice to know that we are not alone in this emotional labyrinth that is Williams Syndrome. All I can say is thank Goodness that Christmas is over! I am free and clear until Easter :) Yes the bath does sound awesome! I usually cherish my hot showers. Boy how lame they seem now :( Glad you had a nice holiday.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Penny said...

I am so happy to hear that you felt good about Christmas this year. I hope that I can have more manageable expectations next year and I can learn a new perspective on Christmas. It warms my heart that you were able to truly enjoy Erik during hte holiday and look past the WS.

PS, I want to see a picture of the Chia Pet!!

2:27 PM  
Blogger Teresa & Shawn said...

What a wonderful Christmas - glad you were able to kick the migraines before the festivities.

Watching kids open presents is so magical to me. I love watching the joy and delight on their faces as they rip through the wrapping paper. Merry Christmas to you all!

3:46 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

I am glad you had a good Christmas. I hope you don't get anymore migraines. I made a pitcher of sangria on Christmas day, I bet it would have helped. :) Happy New Year!!

6:36 PM  
Blogger Kim, Grandma to Ava,ws said...

Congrats on the Chia! I actually wanted one this year. Instead I got Britney Spears cologne. Britney. Spears.

Your mom is so thoughtful. What a wonderful gift for Erik. No amount of colorful plastic could compare to that!

I know what you mean about toys. Ava's favorite things are her collection of people who love her.

Yay! We survived another Christmas.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Kerry said...

To be honest, after I read your old Chia post I started scouring the stores to find one to send to you. I COULD NOT find one AT ALL!!!! I FINALLY saw one on Christmas Eve completely bummed out that I couldn;t get it to you in time :) I'm glad Santa got one for you :)

6:49 PM  
Blogger Every minute counts.... said...

I am glad that you had a good Christmas. It sounds like you had a great time with your family. WS can be frustrating around the holidays. I still have 2 more "christmas's" to go through with Chris' family and trying to explain to Abi what is going on is impossible. As far as she is concerned, she thinks Christmas is a 2 week long ordeal! The other kids understand, she will always not fully get it. It breaks my heart. If only, if only.....

Love that you got a Chia pet...I've secretly always wanted one LOL


6:22 AM  
Anonymous AUNTIE DEE-TA said...



6:56 AM  
Blogger Lizard Eater said...

Best wishes for the New Year. I hope that as more of these big days go by, the "new normal" starts to actually feel somewhat normal.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

glad to hear you were able to take care of that migraine before the holidays started! sounds like it was a good Christmas!

6:58 PM  

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