Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Very Lizzie Christmas

The Night before Lizzie
The Perfect Christmas Gift

I could not decide what to title this Christmas / New Years edition of the "semi-irregular Lizzie Update" so take your pick.

One thing that Ashley and I regret is that we do not have and probably never will have any baby photos of Lizzie. As I was preparing this update, Ashley was going over the paperwork that came with Lizzie, her owners manual. Actually Ashley was looking for Lizzie's social security number and ran across something we had not seen before, it was a rather crappy quality photo, printed on regular copy paper of Lizzie when she was about two years old. At the bottom of the page is a notation saying "The e-mail photo of her from the orphanage before our trip." Will wonders never cease? I have included the photo with this update. Remember that the source is very poor but we are thankful just to have any photo of Lizzie when she was younger.

Lizzie had a fantastic Christmas. Right up to Christmas Eve she never added anything to her paltry list of items she had given to Santa. On Christmas Eve we had the traditional Smith Christmas gift exchange at my brother’s house. As usual it looked like an explosion at the Christmas gift wrapping factory. All the children made a very good haul with tons of swag. My mother decided to come home with us and spend the night so she could see what Santa brought Lizzie the next morning. I drove Mom in her car and Lizzie rode with Ashley back to the house. When we arrived home it was already 10:30 PM and we still had to get Lizzie to bed so Santa could come. Well, having missed the first five and a half years of Lizzie's life we had some Christmas Eve traditions to create, reindeer food, cookies and milk for Santa and reading "A Visit from St. Nick," more commonly know by the first line of the poem, "Twas the night before Christmas."

The proceedings were going kind of slow and I knew that I needed to speed things up a little so while Lizzie was taking her time, carefully laying out the reindeer food for Santa's team, I went into action. I asked Ashley loud enough for Lizzie to hear if they had listened to the radio on the way home and Ashley answered no. Perfect. I then announced that I had heard on the radio that Santa was running a little ahead of schedule and was already in Atlanta and would be getting into Alabama in about twenty minutes. You would have thought that Lizzie's butt was on fire. She finished putting out the reindeer food in about two seconds. She was rushing around in the house ready to get her pajamas on and get into bed. We had to encourage her to take a minute to get some milk and cookies out for Santa and she was totally ready to skip the reading of "A Visit from St. Nick." Ashley telling her that the story was short was the only way we got to read it to her. She was still rushing Ashley to read faster and to turn the pages. During the story she asked what a "clatter" (as in When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter) is. We explained that it is a loud noise. After the story as we said prayers and gave good night hugs and kisses, Lizzie asked if we had any "of those things to go in your ears so you cannot hear." We asked her what for and she said she was worried that if she heard a "clatter" outside and woke up Santa would not stop. Her head hit the pillow and then I had to go to work to get a couple of things. I heard from Santa that his helper elves stayed up until three AM putting a trampoline together and an electric car for Lizzie that night.

Christmas morning came early. Lizzie awoke Ashley and me about 6:15. We had told her to come get us and not to go into the den without us. I got my robe on and told Lizzie to go wake up Mom while I went to check and see if Santa had indeed stopped by the Smith house. As a tradition from Ashley's youth I yelled down the hall that I did not think Santa had come but that Lizzie could check anyway. As she come down the hall she had a worried look on her face but when she got in the den her face lit up and she said, "He did come. He did come" as if she was not quite sure that he had. She absolutely sparkled with enjoyment and the wonder of Christmas. As I mentioned in my last update, Lizzie had an elf, Emma, come live with us during the holidays. Emma went home with Santa Christmas Eve but she left a note for Lizzie. We found the note after the gifts were opened. In the note Emma said that she would be sorry to be away from Lizzie but that she was going to work real hard to finish all her North Pole chores so she could come back next year and spend the Christmas holidays with Lizzie again. Emma also said in her note that she asked Santa why he had left Lizzie rocks last Christmas. Santa said that he was sorry for the rocks and that Lizzie had been so good that he left her something special outside to make up for the rocks. Of course we live in beautiful Mobile Alabama and Santa brought something else with him from up north, rain. Lizzie had to put on her rain coat and rubber boots that her Aunt Ashley gave her and use her umbrella to check out the trampoline and to drive her car around the yard once.

After breakfast we loaded up and visited Ashley's Aunt Andrea and Uncle Tim to get the Gray side of the gift giving started. We had a wonderful Christmas lunch and exchanged gifts. Then we loaded up and went to Ashley's parent’s house for even more debauchery. It was a late evening getting home but Lizzie had to jump on her trampoline again, once again getting soaked even though it had stopped raining hours before.

The next day, Ashley's parents and her niece Avery come over to spend the day and play. After work Ashley's brother came over and we all had chili and cornbread. Thursday was just a play day with Lizzie and Friday our friends Steve and Julie came over with their grandchildren Daven and Mason. Daven spent the night and Saturday morning with Lizzie. Sunday we had more friends with children came over, Tiff and Chris came with their children, Logan and Gannon. Needless to say Lizzie has had a wonderful holiday season. But even with all the toys and playing, when we asked Lizzie what she liked the most she said "my new family." I want everyone who has helped us shower this angel from heaven with the love she deserves to know that you are all part of her "new family" and we thank God for each and everyone one of you.

In the words of the legendary Ron Popiel, inventor of the Pocket Fisherman, But wait, there is more...

We have achieved Schaefer. Right after the last update we received an invitation to Schaefer’s birthday party. To refresh your memory, Schaefer was in Lizzie’s extended day class at her old school and the only friend she ever mentioned from her life before us. Schaefer had an army birthday party at a park in Daphne. Ashley took Lizzie shopping for some camouflage pants and a shirt. We never told her that we were going to see Schaefer or an army party. She kept asking why we were buying boy clothes. On the day of the party we told her we were going to a birthday party for a friend of "Daddy's," that little white lie helped explain the birthday present we were taking. Now this is reaching way back but if you remember from the earlier posts that Lizzie's old parents lived in Daphne. Each school morning, Lizzie rides with Ashley to one of the exits right before the tunnel. Well on this day Lizzie was her usual self right up to the point that we went through the tunnel heading to Daphne. She was so quite that Ashley asked her several times if she was alright, each time Lizzie answered that she was OK and nothing was wrong. Well we got off at the Daphne exit and started heading to the park for the party. Lizzie never said a word. We passed right by were she used to go to school and her old parent’s home and she was still quite. We then passed the park where her old parents gave her to our attorney she still did not say a word. When we turned to go to the park she started asking where we were going again and we told her to a birthday party for an old friend of mine. Well, she finally asked what the name of my old friend was and I told her "Schaefer." She became a little more animated and said "Schaefer? I have a friend named Schaefer." I said "Hmmmm. I wonder if it might be the same one." Just then the park came into site and she saw Schaefer. I was worried that she was going to jump out of the car. She played and played and had a great time. For party favors Schaefer gave out toy canteens with lemonade, toy dog tags, toy soldiers with parachutes attached and plastic army helmets. A tank was the piƱata. We stayed until the last person left and Lizzie did not want to leave then. On the way home we again had to drive past Lizzie's old parents home and again she did not say a word but when we drove by her old school seconds later she was quick to point out the school to us. I feel that on the way over Lizzie may have been worried that we were returning her to her old parents which is why she "shut down," or it could have just been an automatic response which she was not even aware of caused by the familiarity of the route we were taking. I don't know.

This past Monday while I was at work, Ashley took Lizzie to get her a new pair of tennis shoes. While measuring her feet the salesperson asked Lizzie her name. Lizzie responded that it was "Lizzie" but soon it would be "Smith." The lady looks quizzically at Ashley but then Lizzie continued. Lizzie said that she was being adopted and loved her new family. The lady responded that Lizzie was going to make her cry. Lizzie then reached out and stroked the lady's arm and said reassuringly "Don't cry. It's a happy thing."

Now for the big finale...

The Thursday following Christmas I was outside smoking when our attorney called. She asked if I was sitting down and then told me that Lizzie's old parents had signed the papers consenting to Ashley and me adopting Lizzie. As early as next week we will be ending all actions in the Juvenile court and file in Probate court to adopt Lizzie. The attorney said that once the papers are filed, a court date will be set for the hearing. We expect a court date in mid-March. After getting the news from our attorney I was still outside smoking when Lizzie came to the door to tell me something. I told her to give her Mom a message from me. I said something like, Tell Mom that Ms. Donna called and your old parents have signed the paperwork so you can become a Smith. Lizzie's eyes got real big and she did not say anything but just kept staring at me from inside, then she slowly started closing the door and staring at me like she was expecting me to say "Just Kidding!" Finally all I could see was one eye as she kept slowly closing the door and staring at me. I stopped her and asked her what she was going to tell her Mom and she repeated it back to me, getting in a rush now to go tell her Mom. She closed the door and seconds later I heard her Mom shouting and laughing from inside the house. I went inside and we all danced around holding hands and singing "We're gonna be a family, we're gonna be a family." If you ask Lizzie now what the best Christmas gift she received this year was she will tell you it is her new family. I want everyone who has helped us shower this angel from heaven with the love she deserves to know that you are all part of her "new family" and we thank God for each and everyone one of you.

God Bless us everyone.

Reggie, Ashley and Lizzie Smith.

I will send out another update sometime during Mardi Gras.

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