Even though seven years have passed, I still remember Sophie’s first Christmas in our family like it was yesterday. We came home from China in late October, and Sophie had open heart surgery in early December. It was a whirlwind first few months, and before we knew it, Christmas was upon us.
I’d love to tell you that it was a picture perfect holiday, but it wasn’t. We were home from the hospital before Christmas, but Sophie was still recovering. We did our annual big family gathering, but all of the people and noise overwhelmed her. And our family was still adjusting; we were learning to be a family of five, surrounded by lots of people, at one of the busiest, most chaotic times of year.
I remember that sometimes I’d pause and think, “This is hard.” And it was. But it was also beautiful.
Sophie loved all of the food and the presents. She especially loved the crinkly wrapping paper and tree decked with ornaments. She’d never seen twinkling lights, and when we lit up the tree, Sophie’s eyes grew wide with wonder. At only two years old, she didn’t say any words yet, but she mimicked her older brothers and their excitement. I found my holiday-induced stress would melt when I saw her smile as she encountered something new. Sophie’s enthusiasm was contagious.
In all of the Christmases since, I’ve never forgotten that “first Christmas” together. As I look back, it’s not details of the holiday that I remember, but the love. Sophie’s enthusiastic love for all that the celebration entailed. The extended family’s welcoming love for our new little girl. Our overwhelming love for this precious little person who was changing our lives, and our family forever.
Whatever your Christmas holiday brings, I wish you that same measure of love … enthusiastic, welcoming, overwhelming, unconditional love.
Agape Adoptions’ Executive Director, Myriam Avery, welcomed home her daughter, Sophie, from China in 2006.