Every year I look forward to the Christmas and New Year with much anticipation. A nice long break from work, time spent with family, dinner parties with friends, and all the yummy food simply make this special time of the year particularly appealing and heart-warming.

This year was no exception. Although Jane and Michelle constantly made fun of the blue, red and purple blinking lights outside our house, I was just thrilled that for the first time in many years our house looked Christmasy even though the choice of the colors might be questionable. I felt certain that it was going to be the best Christmas ever.

On the morning of December 21st, I received an email from Joe’s brother indicating that he and his wife would have to postpone their 14-hour drive to our home by one day due to the snowstorm. We had a wedding to go to on Saturday and my original plan was to leave Jake with his uncle and aunt. I called Joe to discuss what to do. Joe thought we should just bring Jake along since adding a child shouldn’t be a big deal. I explained that wedding reception took months to plan and it would be rude to bring another person without informing the bride and groom. Before long we were yelling at each other.
“Nothing is a big deal to you. But it is to other people!” I was annoyed at Joe’s inconsideration.
“It is no big deal. If Jake can’t go, I’ll stay at home and play with him. You, Jane and Michelle go ahead and have fun.”

Half an hour later, Jake’s teacher called. Jake was sick the day before and had to miss school. As a result we didn’t get the memo about the dress code for the last day of school. His teacher asked if I could deliver Jake’s pajamas to the front desk. It wouldn’t have been a problem except that my niece’s car blocked mine. Michelle was still at home and so I asked if she could make the delivery for me. Michelle didn’t want to because that would make her late for her final.
“His school is on your way. If you leave now, there will be plenty of time …”
“But I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, mom!”
“Ok, fine! Don’t ask me to do anything for you then!” I yelled at Michelle.

I managed to find my niece’s car key, moved her car and drove to Jake’s school. On the way back, it dawned on me what a loser I was yelling at my husband and daughter within 30 minutes, and right before Christmas! So when I got home, I sent Michelle an apology via text and called Joe again to mend things. With that, the holiday spirit was restored and things were brought back on track.

At night, Joe and I had a discussion with Jake about computer usage during the two-week winter break and alternative ways to react when encountering difficulties. Jake agreed that getting mad didn’t help anyone especially himself. Instead he would look for solutions by seeking help. We told Jake he would be rewarded with three points if he sought help immediately without getting mad, two points if he could manage a mood adjustment quickly. We have been adding stars to the chart on the refrigerator every time Jake demonstrates the desirable behavior. And Jake has been wonderfully responsive, pleasant and affectionate. He spent Christmas day building the 1,015-piece Republic Frigate all by himself without getting frustrated once. One morning, he ran into our bedroom at 7 am as usual, hugged me and Joe and praised us “Love you, mommy and daddy. You two are good parents.” On Christmas night, Jake asked us to watch his baby videos with him. He thoroughly enjoyed watching himself crawling everywhere, making baby noises and playing on the beach with Jane and Michelle. For a whole hour, Jake’s laughter filled the whole house.

On Christmas Eve, Joe got out all his photography gears and we took family photos in our family room. It has become a family tradition. This year’s photo shooting was even more special because of the presence of Joe’s brother, his wife and my niece. We had fun dressing up and posing for the camera.

What is a good time without something totally unexpected? When I came home from shopping the day after Christmas, I found blood on my bathroom floor and on the hand towel. Then I saw Joe with his three left hand fingers wrapped in thick bandages. Being the safety-first guy, somehow Joe ran his fingers through the sharp edge of the blade when handling the paper cutter and got injured. A few days later, he texted me a picture of his bloody fingers and they looked absolutely painful and gross!

I have been waking up before 6 am most of the mornings even though there is no need to. Instead of trying to go back to sleep, I have been spending the early hours of the day reading and writing and even managed to add two new posts to my blog. My sister-in-law told me that she had been reading my blog although she hadn’t posted any comments. Some of the stuff I wrote enabled us to have more interesting and personal conversations this time.

One evening as we were enjoying a hot-pot dinner, Jane made a comment jokingly “According to mom’s blog, I am the difficult child of this family.”
“And I am just there, but Jake is a gift.” Michelle chimed in.
We all started laughing.
“Oh, you are all special in your own ways, and I love each one of you.” I assured them lovingly.

Joe turned on the statistics tracking for letgoblog.com three weeks ago. I am honestly flattered that people are actually reading my posts. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

While writing this piece, I am battling a cold and fever. I may be sick, but I refuse to be down. Holiday season comes and goes. But with the love in our heart, the awareness and willingness to correct any wrongdoings on our part as they occur, we’ll able to live each day as a gift and embrace life every day of the year.