December 13, 2011

The Story Behind the Card

Each day in December, we anticipate the arrival of holiday cards!  Happy
images of family and friends, each with a story to tell... Ours began innocently
enough with a chasing fireflies catalog and a text to my sister months ago.
The "hassle" primarily revolved around the fact that Caroline's love / hate
relationship with dresses has turned into a loathe / hate relationship at best.

The dressiest she'll get is a plain shirt, leggings and a skirt.  It doesn't matter
if it's Jesus' birthday or if Mickey Mouse himself is coming to dinner, she's not
gonna put on a dress.  

It's her primary remaining sensory or OCD -
who even knows anymore - issue
and she can generally out-scream my patience to successfully avoid any type
of dress... yes, even the short ones I try to disguise as "shirts."  

And boots?  Forget about it.  Sparkly mary janes are her go-to shoes and it
ends there.  Anything else needs help from her wardrobe therapist (aka
Emily, the OT).

Why bother?

For many reasons, the Christmas card is sacred to me.  It's one picture each
year where (in my mind) things can appear somewhat "typical."  Call it artful
deception, smoke and mirrors, whatever you want, it doesn't bother me, it's
my card I and was suiting up for a battle of wills.  

Lines were drawn on the living room floor and a few tears were shed (on both
sides), but in the end, when mom buys a dress and boots in SEPTEMBER --
she's gonna get them on the card.

Getting to a smile

The Sound of Music is Caroline's favorite DVD, so while it played in the
background, she danced and sang and appeared to be loving her dress, her
boots and the Christmas season.  In reality, it was October, she was loving
the television and considered the rest a major nuisance.

It seemed fitting that as I snapped photos the nuns were belting out "How do
you solve a problem like Maria?" ...a song so clearly written about a free spirit
just like Caroline.  Only on this day, the lyrics would go something like:

How do you solve a problem like Car-o-line?  
How do you get the girl to lose her frown?

How do you make her stay?
And smile whenever you say?
How do you frame a portrait for your friends?

...Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her.
Many a thing she ought to understand.

The dress, it must not come off.
The boots need to stay on the feet.
We're getting this done today... don't run away!

Oh how do you solve a problem like Car-o-liiiiiine?
How do you show her beauty through the lens?

Would I do it again?

Of course!  There's nothing like the holidays to inspire us to do the
impossible.... whether it's waiting in line at 4 am to get the must-have toy of
the season or employing a little sleight of hand to ensure our kids shine in the
holiday card.  

You do it, I do it, and we'll do it again next year because creating the magic of
the holidays is what it's all about -- and a testament to why it truly is
the most
wonderful time of the year!
My friend Megan eloquently
describes what often happens
when you take a child with
special needs to a portrait studio:
In which we see how the other
half lives