When Your Angel Swipes Your Favorite Ornament

Sabrina Johnson avatar

by Sabrina Johnson |

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There’s a really significant Christmas bell rolling around my house these days. The bell used to be an ornament. Now it serves as a reminder for me to be flexible and understanding. Along with a sense of humor, these traits are good qualities to possess when raising a child with Angelman syndrome.

Although my 11-year-old Angel, Juliana, has always seemed to like our Christmas tree, she never showed much interest in it. Then, a few years ago, I started finding pieces of ornaments around our living room.

I knew then that Juliana was certainly interested in the tree. By the time I finally figured out what was going on, Juliana had managed to take apart one of my favorite ornaments — a vintage-dressed snowman.

Say yes to the mess

It didn’t take me long to realize that she was attracted to the snowman ornament because it doubled as a large jingle bell. Juliana loves anything that makes a noise.

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She must have remembered that the ornament had a bell inside. So, she simply removed it from the tree and added it to a bundle of her favorite toys.

When I finally found the bell, I considered getting out my glue gun and putting the ornament back together. I decided instead to do what any smart mom would do. I let my daughter enjoy the bell. It was like the miniature version of a “yes” day.

raising a child with Angelman syndrome | Angelman Syndrome News | Juliana plays with a bell that she removed from a Christmas ornament

Juliana, 11, makes music with the jingle bell that was once part of her mom’s vintage Christmas tree ornament. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

The ornament wasn’t expensive or extravagant, but I liked it and enjoyed putting it up each year. I usually buy one special ornament annually that serves as a reminder of something significant from that year. I considered replacing it, but in the end, I decided to just let it go. It was a good decision because Juliana really enjoys playing with the bell. It gets a lot more use as her toy than it did as an ornament.

Do you hear what I hear?

The other day, I accidentally kicked the bell and got a nice little musical surprise. It seemed fitting because the bell serves as a constant reminder of good things that can come from disappointments.

Whenever I hear Juliana shaking the bell, I’m also reminded that patience and letting go are important parts of my journey in raising a child with Angelman syndrome.

My snowman ornament isn’t the first thing that Juliana has torn apart, and it certainly won’t be the last. Hyperactivity is natural for Angels. Juliana will get into things, including some of my favorite items. She doesn’t mean to destroy them, but Angels are not always able to control their impulses.

When I think of all the things, such as seizures and heart issues, that could be giving us real challenges, sulking over a torn-up ornament seems like a true waste of time.

I find myself more proud than angry that Juliana singled out one of the few musical things on our tree. That’s pretty intuitive on her part.

She and I will get more from the ornament in its new role, anyway. So her swiping it was well worth losing it. I’ll take her joy from the jingle bell over the vintage snowman any day.

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Note: Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angelman Syndrome News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Angelman syndrome.

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