We are really looking forward to visiting our son in Utah during Christmas time. We will arrive on Christmas Eve Day and stay for five days. This year we are so grateful for the help we have received from the many professionals who have guided us! And of course we are thankful to all our friends and family that keep sending wishes of support and love. That includes YOU the reader! Thank you! I hope you will continue to follow our journey in the coming year!
This year since our Christmas celebration will be not be at home, and the cost of treatment has been astronomical, we have the opportunity to "dial it back in" and show by example what is truly important to us. Instead of giving too many expensive gifts, we are only taking a few small items to him. Don't spill the beans: a non electronic watch, Star Wars movie tickets and a mechanical pencil and drawing book. Our biggest gift this year is the gift of being present. I am calling it the Present of our Presence! What exactly does that mean? Our most important and meaningful present is US!
We have been lucky enough to have seen our sixteen year old four times during the last six months. The first visit was when he was in Wilderness after seven weeks for a family therapy retreat. I recall that when he first saw us, he said it felt like Christmas morning! I know we missed him terribly, and by that statement it's safe to say he felt the same way!
Each of the visits had a special purpose. The next was transporting him from Wilderness to the RTC (residential treatment center/school) where he is located now. The third was for Parent Days filled with lots of family sessions on the topic of boundaries. The fourth visit was purely social during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. This upcoming Christmas visit will have the same goal of "having fun"!
We will be able to spend quality time together! We will work on our communication without the distraction of iPhones or computers. We will put our devices away and he isn't allowed to have any use of electronics at this point in time. We will eat some good food and take some beautiful drives and hikes. If the snow arrives, we will play and ski if we feel like it! We will limit our movie going, so we are active and not participating in passive activities. I'm sure we will pack our days up with lots of fun in during our five days together!
Right now the boys at the school are reading a book called "The Ultimate Gift". We parents were given the same assignment. After finishing it, we had the opportunity of watching the movie by the same name, starring James Garner and Abigail Breslin. I urge you to read the book or watch the movie and share the dozen lessons it teaches. Perspective allows one to see things differently. We are certainly in the middle of the process of a new perspective!
Wishing you and your families the happiest of Holidays! We look forward to a bright 2018!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Thanks for your continued support of this blog.
It was around 7:30 pm and we decided to drive around and check out all the Christmas lights and decorations folks had put up in the neighborhoods. The amazing part that this was Thanksgiving Weekend and the lights were already up in mass! It was spectacular!
One of the staff at the RTC (residential treatment center) told us about a drive-thru light experience in a nearby town. What the heck! When in Rome........do as the Romans do! We pulled up to the "Festival of Lights" and paid our $7 (per vehicle). We were instructed to tune our car radio to a particular FM station. Christmas music surrounded us! Off we went on a slow driving journey around a darkened golf course transformed into a magical light experience. It was amazing and FUN! Reindeer and elves and snowmen and Santas were all a glow! It was something we will never forget. And we enjoyed it as a family!
On the way back to the RTC, we had a family meeting. This was part of a contract we all agreed upon before our visit to Utah. This type of meeting is something the boys do every evening. We also did a version of it called "nightly check-in" at the family retreat in Wilderness with our son and the group at large. It's a nice way of re-capping what worked and what needed improvement during our day. Some of our comments are below:
"It was a good day. We talked about lots of different subjects. We achieved our goal of having fun! We listened to each other. It was one of the best days together in a very long time."
"It was nice to be able to open up and not hide anything. We did a pretty good job of listening to each other. I can't think of anything I'd change. I can't wait until tomorrow."
We arrived back at the RTC and checked our son in. We gave the staff in charge a short summary of our day and then said our good-byes for the night. We would head back to our hotel and see our son bright and early at 9am the next morning.
The new day began at the local iHOP. Our son just realized what the letters in iHOP stood for: International House of Pancakes! It's funny what we tune into in our environments. There was every kind of pancake imaginable on the menu. Our son's choice was "Red Velvet" pancakes. We had "Senior Samplers", a combo of eggs and pancakes. We felt like we went backwards in time. We were not sure when the last time we went to an iHOP had been.
After breakfast, we headed to the Aquarium. It may not be the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, but it was this one was really nice. It was built in 2014 and had some wonderful exhibits and displays including a shark walkway that is sort of creepy and fun at the same time! We had a great time! We were able to experience another day together and enjoy each other's company. We were so thankful.
Our day continued with some lunch and another adventure drive, this time towards the Sundance Resort. We found out quickly that the "back way" was closed for the season, so we stopped at the turn around and took some quick family pictures. Our smiles showed genuine happiness! We just might have captured THE picture for our Christmas card this year.
As the day concluded we were all becoming exhausted and a little quieter and introspective. Our time together was coming to an end. I think I know how Cinderella felt when the clock struck twelve! Would this new enjoyable way of being a family, simply disappear? Or would we be able to build on this weekend for our future growth as people and as a family? We said our "so long for nows" (much better than good-bye!) and left with a few tears. Our son re-joined his group of boys and watched an Adam Sandler movie.
"See you in a month! We'll be back at Christmas!"
I am Warrior Mom. I am a self proclaimed Techy and I'm NOW calling a halt to the excess use of it! Let's put some balance back into our lives, especially our teens!