It’s the most wonderful time of the year…. Right???
For as long as I can remember, Christmas has been one of my favorite times of year. The birth of Jesus, the magic of the season, the traditions, family time and all that comes with this wonderful season fills my heart with hope and so much love… after all God sent us LOVE in the form of a baby!
In many ways, having children in our home this Christmas is a dream come true for my husband and I. It is everything we have hoped for and desired since we married. This year we are blessed beyond measure to have two beautiful and amazing children in our home. Experiencing so many firsts with them has brought both joy and sorrow in our home!
I think it is often unrealized or goes unrecognized that many children, whether in care or not, do not have the joy of celebrating Christmas in the manner in which we may be accustomed to in our own little world! Many think of children in third world countries when they think of children not having a Christmas. The truth of the matter is, children in our own backyard, in our own neighborhoods, in our own country often go without ever knowing the joys of Christmas. For them, there is no big feast, no traditions, no tree, no decorating, no caroling, no presents and no Savior to celebrate! Yes, they may be exposed to these things at school or in some other form, but the idea and the tangible experience of it all is completely foreign to them. The expectation and anticipation of waiting for Santa, waking up on Christmas morning to open presents and celebrating the birth of the one true king child means nothing to them. They have never had Christmas, possibly never celebrated a birthday or any other holiday we typically celebrate. For them, they are a stranger to these new experiences!
So how do we handle this “new” magical and special time of year? How do we handle the trauma that is still at the forefront even though it is Christmas? How do we honor their past and involve the children in our tradition? How do we reduce the anxiety and confusion this time of year brings for many children in care? I have said this a few times lately… OH, but for the grace of God we get through it. We get through the accidents, the tantrums, the confusion, the worry, the excitement, the tears, the heartache, the past, with LOVE!
No, every moment is not horrible and much of it is pure joy, but there is never a day without something that happens, that draws us back to the heart of what we are doing! We are called to love the children in our care, and we are called to help them through the most difficult time of their lives. We are called to make their world a better place and to ease the pain of this journey. Simply stated we are sharing God’s love and welcoming a child and in turn welcoming Him into our home!
I don’t intend to paint a picture that we are handling this journey perfectly or that when situations arise they are quickly handled and we move forward. Some things are on-going while other things are a quick fix. We try very hard to “think ahead” and to prevent any stressful or negative situations. For example; we decided to place presents under the tree early. In our home, we have gifts from us as well as the gifts from Santa. So the gifts we purchased from us went under the tree a little over a week before Christmas. We did this for a few reasons. We decided that we would reassure the children that there would be gifts under the tree for them, we would get a gauge on their reactions, and handle any issues that may arise in hopes of them not surfacing on Christmas day. The reaction was not quite what we expected, but we were thankful that God has given us the wisdom to think ahead and plan for best and worst case scenarios. Nope, it’s not perfect, but we are anticipating, with excitement Christmas morning in our home!
Yes, Christmas is a magical time of year and YES it can be a positive thing, but remember, kids in care often have difficulty. Not because they are not appreciative, rather because it evokes feelings, memories and differences in their world as they know it. It may bring up the hurt and realization that they have never had a Christmas before… no tree and possibly no presents! For others, it may evoke bad memories of abusive situations, lack of food or tradition in their prior home. For others, they move forward as if nothing is different or bothersome to them.
No matter how they react, my advice is to love a little more, show a little more compassion, maintain structure and rules, and be willing to fight through the tears for their sake! Be willing to be their “hero” during this difficult time. I believe that someday, in some way they will look back on it and remember one thing… not the presents under the tree, not the food on the table, not the decorations or lights… rather the LOVE, the love in your hearts, your homes and the greatest love of all… Christ’s love… and in that, there is no greater gift!
From the bottom of our very grateful and blessed hearts, we wish you and your family a most blessed Christmas and adventurously wonderful new year!
John 3:16 ~ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.