I don't even know how to begin to describe Dasha's first Christmas. Pure magic really says it best. Christmas in our family starts on Christmas Eve day. We have a huge get together at my parents' house with about 40 family members. It is generally pure chaos and gets louder and more chaotic with the addition of each child to all of the families. It sounds crazy, but the kids and I love it. This year I was really nervous, though, for Dasha to experience it. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. She had a great time!!!! We got there early so that my parents could give their presents to their grandkids before everyone else got there. There's nothing like starting an event with a new Mickey Mouse Clubhouse set to get you in the mood to party, at least for Dasha and Jacob! From that point on, she was outgoing, sociable, and full of energy. She played with all of her cousins, and taught her Aunt Jesi how to hula hoop. She LOVES Christmas!!!
At the end of the day, we headed to Jeff's mom's house to do it all over again. I was sure that we were in for a meltdown at this point. I mean, really, how much can we expect from her? Apparently a lot - she was great there, too, and had a great time playing and opening presents again. When we got home we all put out the cookies and milk for Santa and each kid got to open one present. Of course, I only let them open the package that contained new jammies. Amber and Dasha put on their matching jammies, as did Jacob and Mitchell. We got everyone in bed with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads - well, all except Dasha. When I was putting her down, she finally broke down crying after all the excitement of the day. When I asked her what was wrong, she said, "Mommy no Santa me room", meaning, "I am scared that Santa is going to come into my room". The things that we take for granted lose a lot in translation, don't they? I reassured her that Santa would only be stopping by our Christmas tree to leave gifts and would be quickly leaving. She calmed down and fell asleep.
We tried to convince the kids that we would be sleeping until 7 am before getting up and going downstairs. Pipe dreams - they were up at dawn trying to convince us that the sun was out and it was time. We gave in and started the fun. I wish there were words to describe the looks on Dasha's face when she realized that there were toys for her. I think she really wasn't sure it was going to happen. The little "oohs" and "Mommy looks" that kept coming out of her mouth was a moment I will never forget. It is really corny, but that song "Do They Know It's Christmas" kept going through my head. I just kept thinking, "No they definitely don't!" We are so blessed to have four children this year to share the story of Jesus's birth and life with, and it is so wonderful to be able to share that with Dasha this year. We had gone to church on Friday night before Christmas, and Dasha was with us. Our church was actually broadcast on Fox News this year on Christmas and we watched it over again that day. It was so fun to have Dasha actually recognize HER church. Tomorrow morning she is going to go to Sunday school for the very first time. This will be another big step in her story and I am looking forward to having her experience the love of God this way.
Dasha has really started opening up to us in the last two weeks about her life. She will point out things that she recognizes from Kazakhstan excitedly that she sees here. She is starting to ask us how to say words that she doesn't know, though at this point it seems like there are very few of those. Her English continues to amaze us. Tonight when I was putting her to bed she really brought me to my knees. Out of the blue, she asked me if we were going to go back to the detsky dom to bring home her friend Danil. Danil is the little boy that she danced with in the big production at the orphanage. He really is a wonderful little boy that Jeff and I actually talked about bringing home, too. He has an 11 year old brother and is not yet available for adoption. We were actually in the car leaving the orphanage one day with our coordinators when Danil's grandmother came to the car pleading with our coordinator to find a home for Danil and his brother. Our coordinator told her that she had to give up custody first through the court system and told her how to do that. It was really heartbreaking to witness. I don't know if we could do this again, but I am really hoping that a family is found for these brothers. I told Dasha that Danil's grandmother has still been visiting him at the detsky dom and she hasn't given permission for him to be adopted yet. She told me that she had worked out all the details, and said that she thought he could sleep in the boys' room on a little couch, and that he was a good boy. She said that he doesn't speak English, but she would tell him in Russian what everything was in the house. It was so amazing to see her little spirit coming out. She wants her friends to have a good life, too. I really hope and pray that any families considering adoption would follow their hearts to give a child a better life. Happy New Year to you all!