Dec 23, 2007

Home for the Holidays

By Liz Adair

I’ll probably quote Robert Frost incorrectly, but in Death of a Hired Man, he said, “Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in.” I’ve often thought of that in my situation, because for three of my children, home has been a place they were not allowed to return to. These were my adopted children who came to us as older, abused, deprived waifs, dragging baggage that would make them, at some point, dangerous to the rest of the family.

Faith wished us all a merry, cozy Christmas in her posting last week, and that phrase has lingered with me as people began to arrive.

First it was Jack (grandchild number 17), making his sudden advent three weeks early, weighing 8 lbs 11 oz. Mother and son had a rocky first week, but things are going better now.

Next was Clay, back from Egypt with a friend in tow, keeping us up until three a.m. because it was mid-day in Cairo and his inner clock hadn’t yet reset. We had all local children (except for Jack’s parents) over to our little house, and Clay and Whitney cooked Middle Eastern food for us: falafel, hummus, cuscus, and chicken rubbed with a marvelous spice and then roasted. Afterward, we all got out our baritones and played for Whitney, whose eyes got very big. She’s a musician, so that must have meant she was impressed.

Then my brother arrived. A professor at Utah State and single, he often visits us for Christmas. My children and grandchildren all love Uncle Ron and look forward nonstop Scrabble and other frivolous endeavors, because, as Ron says, frivoling is serious business.

Last to arrive was my adopted daughter. She spent last Christmas with us, just Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. This year, she has come early and will spend about four days. We’ll all go to church this morning and take up a whole pew and then come home, Scrabblize all afternoon, and just take joy in being cozy together on a rainy winter day.

There are two more out in the world, two adopted children, sealed to us in the temple. I hear from them periodically when life is going well for them. But that is followed by long stretches of silence where, I infer, life is going ill. Time may come when they’ll make their way back and be welcomed into our cozy holiday group. Who knows? There have been other Christmas miracles.


  1. And we yearn for those miracles so much it hurts. Thanks for sharing. Christmas is never as simple as it should be, but there will always be moments of joy.

  2. Just yesterday, I was talking to the mother of a former piano student who had wandered far from the Church, but has recently returned via his newly converted wife. Miracles do, indeed, happen. Never give up hope. (I'm not a mother, but I know that mothers never really do.)

  3. I'm so put out with myself, or my computer, or both. I replied at length, then lost it in trying to edit. It's not that I haven't done it before. I just forget to copy BEFORE I push the wrong button.

    Liz, as usual I adore your post. However, I recall the Frost poem with one more word, though I'm not going to stop and look it up this week. My memory says, "Home is where, when you HAVE to go there, they have to take you in." The wife replies something like, "I thought it was something more."

    Christmas may be one of the busiest times of the year, but it's still my favorite. I may not get greeting cards out on time (still haven't mailed even one) but love hearing from friends. It's party time, and family time.

    We've had the heartache of children who made wrong choices and had to suffer the consequences. It seems to be a learning experience for all of us. Sometimes I've wondered why my prayers weren't answered as soon as, or in the way that I'd requested. Perhaps it's because I didn't really expect it. After all, miracles aren't very logical. Maybe if I gave thanks for the expected answer and acted as if it were already given, my faith would grow, my patience seem less a burden, and I could happily watch as the miracle comes. The thought itself is exciting.

    I'm most grateful that all our family, even extended family, so far as I know, love and like each other.Of course, that doesn't mean we approve every choice, or enjoy each consequence, but we greet each other with joy, and treat each other like friends. That, in itself, seems a miracle.

    Liz, your baritone horns inspire me. For my after-Christmas party this year (Friday, December 28 at our ward bldg.) I'm asking everybody to bring whatever they want, or can, to have a jam fest at the end. I wouldn't be surprised if rhythm sticks and kazoos predominate, and the results may be pure cacophony, but it could be pure fun. One of my sons said, "Mom, aren't our Arnett parties already loud enough?" He's right, but so what?

    I've also invited extended family and many friends. We plan activities, especially for the small children, have a potluck dinner, a white-elephant gift exchange, and whatever else comes handy. If any of you care to join us, contact me for details. I believe the more the merrier, especially since everybody brings the food, the gifts, I don't decorate, and evrybody helps clean up. Pretty sneaky, no?

  4. Liz, the stockings are hung and the last of our "children" are all finally snuggling in their beds.The older ones played Santa and filled all the stockings for me...since all the little ones belong to them, I thought that only fair.

    Three of our four foster daughters have wandered away from the church. One asked for her name to be removed from the rolls, one was excommunicated after a horrible divorce, and the other just hangs back. The fourth one went on a mission and is happily married and active in the church. I, too, am learning to never give up.

    My mother-in-law and I love the challenge each other to word games. My hubby likes to play too, but if I ever hope to beat him, I have to time the playing to occur during a good football game on television...that way he concentrates on the TV more than on what I am doing on the board...I don't cheat...I just take advantage of his lack of focus....

    Merry Christmas to you and all of yours...thank you for all the love and friendship and support you all send.


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