Home for the Holidays
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”
Every year around this time, we experience a particular set of sights, sounds, scents, flavors, and feelings. Little blinking lights begin to show up on houses, and red bows pop up in all the shopping centers. We’re surrounded by joyful music and cheerful songs. Hints of cinnamon and pine find their way to our noses, and we enjoy the sweetness of sugar cookies and other treats on our tongues. Christmas is an especially rich sensory experience.
Because our senses are strongly tied to memory recollection, the holidays evoke vivid memories and emotions. When memories are marked by trauma, this can feel like an assault. Children who have experienced abuse or neglect might be reminded of a fun activity and a scary experience at the same time. They may feel a general sense of sadness or discomfort. Surrounded by joy and cheer, they may feel confused and even ashamed. For children in foster care, the holidays evoke complex memories and emotions.
Take a moment and consider these lyrics through the lens of a child who has been removed from the only home and family they’ve ever known:
“I’ll be home for Christmas, you can plan on me...I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.”
“Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays
‘Cause no matter how far away you roam
You can pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze
For the holidays, you can’t beat home sweet home”
“Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on, your troubles will be out of sight”
Children in foster care are constantly navigating a vast field of emotions and trying to manage several sets of expectations. No matter how much a child in foster care loves their foster family, they miss their birth family. No matter how comfortable and safe a child feels in their foster home, they long for the familiarity of their former home. They love both families, and they are connected to both places. As Facebook would say, “It’s complicated.”
This Christmas, the best gift we can give our children is the gift of compassion.
We can acknowledge the maze of emotions they’re working through. We can remove our expectations and give them the freedom to process the holidays in their own way and time. We can invite them into our holiday planning and welcome their suggestions for how to make the holidays a healthy time for our whole family. We can celebrate with them in moments of joy and comfort them in moments of grief.
In this season dedicated to Jesus, we can be reminded of God’s great love for us and for our children. We can turn to Him in our confusion. We can seek His guidance as we make our plans. We can find joy and comfort in His presence. In Him, we will feel the full measure of goodness and gather the strength and wisdom we need to love our children like He loved us.
“For unto us a child is born, a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”
Join us this evening as LaNé hosts an online prayer event on our Facebook Page. We’d love to see you there at 7:00 p.m. PST.