Whelp we’ve made it to Christmas. It’s the time of year where one’s heart should grow three sizes and goodwill should be sprinkled like the curse words you use while trying to find the last-minute gift that your child decided was the gift of the year that you did not buy.

This is also the time of year where grief hits me hard. We’ve sat down with our eager three-year-old and asked her what she hopes Santa will bring her. It’s been a complete fail as her belief in St. Nick is so pure this year her response is: “He knows what I want.” I want to be like he really doesn’t so if you can help us so we don’t have the repeat of last year—where she asked numerous times who got her this? And then her famous, “Well I don’t like it.”

She keeps us on our toes so we have a backup fund labeled if Vivi she decides to give us a list.

But then there is my sweet seven-year-old boy Whit. He doesn’t communicate in the conventional way. I always think of the song from Bandaid “Does he know it’s Christmas time at all?!”

This year for the first time ever he marveled at the tree. We’ve tried to set up pictures in hopes of getting some kind of idea of what he wants for Christmas. I’m usually not an organized Christmas shopper. My husband and I have been known to run to Target on Christmas Eve for a last-minute Christmas Gift or ten.

I think Whit’s not caring has given me this, “What’s the point attitude.” As I load a virtual cart with things, I think, “Will this be the year?! Will this be the time he acknowledges a gift and plays with it properly?!” Usually, it’s a no and there is always a twinge of disappointment. We have a closet full of gifts we thought would work but have backfired horribly.

Why do we keep them you may be asking? Because as a mom I have this mindset of there is always next year. There’s always next year to try Santa again. There’s always next year to get a Christmas list from Whit. There’s always next year. Then my mind wanders to what if there isn’t ever a year where he cares? What if all the Christmas buying, and therapy to help Whit process any celebration is all done in vain because I’m the mom who can’t let go and accept our reality? I get that way when people ask us for a Christmas list for Whit. He’s possibly into LEGOs, he seems to like to watch us attempt to put them together.

This is the first year that our 3-year-old is 100% sold on Christmas and I’m living up every moment of it but at the same time hoping and praying that maybe this will be the year that Whitman will open a gift be excited acknowledge us and play with it. I know that’s a huge hope—I’d take any of that sequence in a heartbeat. We are building our 3-year-old a Target and Starbucks for our playroom. While ordering all the supplies and in my excitement, my husband stopped me and said: “I don’t want to ruin this for you but what about Whit?!” I tried to convince him that Whit has been showing interest in pretend play with his sister so fingers crossed. I added a few extra gifts for Whit to keep it even in hopes that maybe this will the year.

So here’s to the mom’s and dad’s who are feeling this too. May this be the year our kids surprise us in the best way especially in a time where we are told to be happy but we grieve the loss of childhood traditions. May we find new holiday traditions that work for us. It’s not about the presents, I know but sometimes it feels like it is. It’s about the love we have for each other and a reminder of how far we come in the last year even in the midst of a global pandemic. May this be the year of letting go, seeing the good, and having a little bit of hope.