The Real 2022 Christmas Letter

Here’s the thing – a really long time ago, I started an “Honest” Christmas letter. I received all those lovely letters from people with partners and children. At the time, I was single with no kids but I still wanted to write a letter. I still thought it was okay that I write a letter even though I did not have the perfect life that my friends and family had in their letters. Honestly, I’ve lived long enough that I know Christmas Letters (not unlike social media) share the highlights. Not the real stuff. I wanted to share the real stuff.

This year, I realized that I’ve stopped with honest letters. I do the highlight reel. (To be clear, I love receiving the highlight reel from people. I love reading about what made their year great.) As I wrote the letter, I felt like I was skipping half my life. So I’ve decided to write a real letter here. I’m not done processing all that has happened this year and for that reason, I’m not including everything. Because even with an honest Christmas letter, I don’t have to share if I don’t want to. As you may know about me, even with the tough things, I learn to look for the good. I find my gratitude. So I will end this letter with some much-needed perspective and gratitude. My son also added his own letter to the cards this year. I’m not including that.

The Original Letter:

Happy Holidays,

In 2022, we survived Kindergarten and have now started Grade 1. My kiddo loves learning math and numbers in school but doesn’t love learning to read. I can’t wait for him to get there because he loves books. 

He continues to be the most creative boy I’ve ever met. He’s full of stories and adventure and energy. I try to write down as many of his stories as I can but it’s impossible to keep up.

This year, we went to Drumheller. It was our first big family vacation. The kiddo loved the pool the best. I loved the hoodoos and the hiking and C enjoyed not working and hanging out with us. (Of course).

We’ve been lucky this year, C has not had to go far for work. We’ve been able to spend time together. We had a trip to Moose Jaw in May to take our six-year-old to the spa for his birthday. (We skipped the birthday party and spent the weekend swimming.) 

The little guy learned how to ride his bike in the Spring and we went on lots of bike rides this summer. We’re hoping to do some snowshoeing this winter.

He also went to an outdoor camp this summer. He went for a week in July and a week in August and had a blast. We all do much better outside. 

This summer, I had the opportunity to do some freelancing for Saskatoon Media Group (writing for the same radio stations I worked at before the kiddo was born.) I worked in the morning for Saskatoon Media Group, had adventures with the kiddo in the afternoon, and then wrote for Family Fun Saskatoon at night. Writing is definitely easier while my son is in school but we made it work and now I know I can add more freelancing to my life if I need. Family Fun keeps me pretty busy though. (And I still love it.) I started the job two years ago when things were still very slow and it’s nice to see how busy it is now.

C’s parents came up for a week from Ontario. My little guy and I took Granny for afternoon adventures while C’s dad helped him renovate the basement. We did a bit of rearranging and C had much more to do after his parents left but we now have a play section for kiddo, a movie-watching section AND a little office for myself! It worked out well and looks great. We still need to hang a few things but it’s pretty much done.

We are spending Christmas at our house with my parents, my favourite sister and the three of us. AND DROGO! I can’t forget him!

Drogo the doggo and the kiddo are getting along very well and have a blast playing together… until one of them gets mad at the other. Not unlike real siblings.

Have a wonderful holiday! I can’t wait for new adventures in 2023.

The Honest Christmas Letter

Happy Holidays. The past few years have not been easy. Covid and isolation in the previous years were hard but it’s been hard for everybody. We survived that part and made adventures in our very own city.

In 2021, my kiddo started Kindergarten. It was not an easy process. He enjoyed school but wasn’t great in the setting with all the students and noise. He had trouble with his temper and it wasn’t easy to self-regulate. He was sent home a lot more than your average 5-year old. We had a lot of ups and downs with him. We had a pediatrician who thought he might have Autism. When we went in to get him tested, we were told he’d grow out of it and was fine. I didn’t think it was Autism but didn’t think it was something he’d grow out of. I stayed hopeful though.

In May of 2022, he went to school on his sixth birthday and in true FIGHT or FLIGHT mode, he bit another student in a fit of rage. This is something I’ve not told many people because I’ve felt remorse for the other student and remorse that my son spent his 6th birthday being sent home from school again. (The other student wasn’t harmed, but it still wasn’t a proud moment.)

Also in May, my son learned how to ride his bike. His parents cheered him on and were so proud that he tried so hard. We spent the nice weather going for bike rides and loving exploring our neighbourhood.

My kiddo finished kindergarten with both friends and good teachers. He was still working on self-regulation but he made it. We were moving on to another grade! But FIRST SUMMER!

I’m sure we had our struggles in the summer. The biggest one was dealing with tummy issues. We cut out dairy in hopes that it would improve. (It did until this Christmas came around and my kiddo had ALL THE EGGNOG.) He loves letting people know that he’s lactose intolerant. I’m pretty sure he has no idea what it means.

He went to a nature camp during two different weeks of summer and he had an absolute blast. He enjoyed playing with new children, he loved learning about nature and he played the entire time.

Summer was good. We ended it with a trip to Drumheller for the Labour Day weekend. It was the first family trip together in a long time and we all enjoyed our time. We had a few moments of the little guy not listening but all in all, he did well and so did we.

He started grade one at the same school in September. The school already knew about his behaviour and they were already planning to work hard with him. September went very well. I didn’t realize it but because of last year, I was constantly anxious when my phone rang. I got one phone call in September because he had gotten hurt and I cried after because I was so relieved he wasn’t in trouble again. (He wasn’t seriously hurt!)

As with most households in Saskatchewan, we got hit with cold after cold after cold for a while. With the sickness and time away from school, his self-regulation went downhill. It was different than it was last year. He seemed to be doing better with the other kids but now was fighting with the teachers. He had trouble taking instructions, fights to be heard, and screamed and he hit his teachers. It was A LOT. The anxiety-inducing phone calls started again. Around this time, he was also FINALLY diagnosed with ADHD. This wasn’t a surprise but it was emotional. I’d been waiting so long for some sort of answer. Since then, I’ve started reading ALL THE BOOKS about ADHD.

He loves structure and has trouble with classes that change his routine. His class is also a big one and there’s so much going on around him, he can’t stay calm. Other than the self-regulation issues, he tries his hardest every day to make those around him laugh and always wants to look ‘handsome’ for the females in his class. He loves telling stories and he loves being the center of attention. His favourite day was a show and tell day and he did amazing. My little one had some good moments mixed with the bad – it’s just that the bad moments were louder.

In November, he started doing half days because the afternoons were too stimulating for him. He was doing okay with just mornings but not great. In the meantime, we’ve been lucky enough to have speech therapy, counselling and OT from Children’s Mental Health. It has helped us all. The school approached me in December about my kiddo changing classes. They suggested a classroom that is meant to help with behaviour and self-regulation. It’s for kids that just need a bit more help. They also follow the regular learning program. The school and the parents agree that my kiddo is really smart, he just gets distracted by everything else around him. As a mom, it was hard to hear that they wanted him to move schools. I love my son more than anything and felt like a failure that he couldn’t stay in his classroom. We’ve had a rough year at home full of fights, stand-downs, stubbornness and frustration. I’ve lacked patience. I have not been the perfect parent. I know there is no such thing as a perfect parent but I take a lot upon myself. I feel like I’ve failed even though I know better.

He will be moving to the new class in the new year. It will be a VERY small class which is lovely. We went to visit and they have a toy robot and transformer in the classroom which means he’s all in. He met the new teacher and EAs and enjoyed them all. He told the new teacher that he thinks his desk should be next to the teacher because they’re friends now. I think it will be good. I hope it will be good. This also is not permanent. He will be back in his regular school when he’s ready. The goal of these classes is to get them back to their school. My boy works hard and needs some more practice. I’ve already seen so much improvement. He’s learned so much. (Like taking a breath instead of exploding.) It’s a learning process for all of us. I know he’ll continue learning with the new class.

Today, was his last day with his class and when I went to pick him up we both cried. I cried for him. He was upset to leave the staff of the school. It was heartbreaking. He loves them and that says everything. I look forward to the day he gets to see them again. The school saw the good and the bad but they made sure to let him know the good. My son knows when he’s overstepped and feels remorse and sadness because of his behaviour. We are all helping him to see that he’s so much more than his moments.

I was incredibly proud of him today as we left the school. My boy is incredibly brave even if he doesn’t know it. He’s not been given a lot of choices in this but he’s still trying to see the best in it. He can’t wait to meet new friends. He loves people and even with his struggles this kid can pull out the charm with anybody. He’s amazing.

These past few years have not been easy, and if I’ve learned anything, it is that you are never too old to call your mom in tears. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have my family and friends by my side and by my son’s side cheering him on. I’m incredibly lucky to have my son because even though we have so many struggles, we have more laughs. He’s constantly making me laugh or constantly telling me amazing stories. He’s so creative and full of imagination. He keeps me going always.

I’ve talked on social media about ADHD and about struggles that we’ve had. (I’m also pretty sure I have ADHD as well but haven’t gotten a diagnosis yet.) But I haven’t gone into depth with many people about the details of his school life. It’s hard. I don’t want people to look at my son and judge him (or me). I don’t want them to see him for anything other than the amazing boy he is. I talk about the good and bad but I always make sure social media sees the best part of him and us. But in my seasonal letter for all of the world to see, I can admit that nothing is ever perfect and we’ve had plenty of moments this year that I would like to erase.

That being said, I don’t really want to erase them because every single moment is what makes us into us. I would never take a moment away because it’s getting us to where we are. I’ve learned so much this year. So has C and so has my son. We’re figuring it all out together and we are learning how to do more than survive. We will thrive.

Dear friends, thank you for reading my letter. Please know that I am full of gratitude as this year ends. My life is amazing. I am alive, I’m growing older, and I get to watch my son grow older, wiser, and be full of life. My son loves school (even with the struggles), he loves creating things, and he loves Minecraft (even though he’s not once played it). He loves the world and I’m incredibly grateful to have some of his love all to myself.

Also, I am not just a mom so this year I’ve been working on my own dreams as well. I’ve been writing for work and in the new year, I have a goal to work on a new project just for me. I’ve spent a lot of time being a mom and focusing all my attention on one amazing boy. 2023 will be our year. I’m working on myself and I’m going to continue to encourage my son every step of the way.

Happy Holidays friends and family. I’m so happy you are in my life.

2 thoughts on “The Real 2022 Christmas Letter

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