The gift of a mother

Christmas is a bittersweet holiday. We reflect on all that we have been given, but also on those we have lost during the year. It hits me this year that it will be six years since my biological mother passed away on Christmas Eve.

My biological mother left me when I was nine, so I knew what holidays, birthdays and major moments were like without her. Knowing she was gone and not knowing why she left made Christmas harder.

For a couple years after my biological mom passed away, I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas. In a way, I felt like I was celebrating her death. Even though it took a while, I now look at the blessings I have been given. She impacted my life. Everything happens for a reason.

One of the reasons we are so giving during Christmas is because we realize what we have been given. My dad stepped up to the plate as both a mom and dad, while going to school full time. I didn’t know then the sacrifices he was making, but now I see how incredible it was. My dad had to play both roles since my mother’s mental illness stopped her from being the mom I needed.

The biggest gift I have received isn’t a present that can be wrapped, but the gift of having someone accept me as their own. My dad met my step mom, Michelle, when I was in fifth grade. I slowly started to get to know her.

During a summer trip to see her family, I asked her if I could call her mom. Right away, she told me that she would love that, but wanted to make sure I didn’t feel pressured to call her that. The word seemed so simple, but having someone who wanted me and thought of me as her own was a wonderful blessing.

The summer before seventh grade, Michelle, who I had come to see as my mom, decided it was time to adopt me. I’ve always felt lucky that she never saw me as anything other than her daughter. Her family considers me a part of the family as well. I didn’t just gain a mom; I gained a huge family.

For the past few Christmases, it is not the gifts I remember, but the memories and blessings of the year. This generosity shouldn’t just happen on one day; it should be shared throughout the year. We should all make an effort to give unconditional kindness and love to everyone.