Where is the love for the holidays?
Being in foster care, I never felt love, or the reason for the love, around the holidays. Having grown up in care, I didn't have a typical "happy" holiday. Being in 6 different foster homes, 1 youth shelter, and a boarding school; I did not get why people were very excited for the holidays.
I grew up poor, even before foster care.My mom tried her best to do nice things for my siblings and me during the holidays, but it was hard getting us dinner to eat, let alone trying to buy us gifts and toys. This hurt my mom on the inside because she wanted to do a lot of special things for us. She tried to appear strong, but we could see the pain in her eyes. Since I didn’t get any gifts for the holidays, I stopped caring about receiving gifts and focused on making other people happy. Even after going into foster care, I did not receive any gifts and I just stopped thinking about gifts during the holidays. Despite this, I was very happy that I could make others smile because the gifts I gave made them happy.
My last foster mom sends me socks every year.I love socks, they make my feet feel comfortable,. When I was younger I started thinking that I was only worth a pack of socks for the holidays. It didn’t matter how many gifts I give people, I only received socks. So I started to buy myself stuff for Christmas, which was fine at first, but then I started talking to friends, and they were telling me what their parents, or loved ones, got them, and I started to make a connection with love and gifts. I thought I was not loved because nobody thought about me enough to get me the smallest gift, and the feeling of no love hurts. However, I would still give gifts to people that I loved. I could not stop that because I thought if I show them love this year, then they will love me enough to get me something next year, but it was the same thing every year.
On Christmas in 2016, I worked as a Life Skills Counselor at a youth shelter in Pennsylvania. With my own money, I got some of the kids gifts because they were alone for the holidays. The kids woke up, opened gifts from the shelter and myself, and then surprised me with dog tags that said: "THANK YOU FOR BEING A STAFF THAT CARES, and HAPPY HOLIDAYS MAY THIS YEAR BE BETTER THAN YOUR LAST”. This was the first real gift that I had received, and it meant so much to me that I broke down and cried, and while I was on my knees, the kids hugged me and some cried too. Those kids had little, to no, money and they gave me this very special gift. They showed me that they cared. The point I am trying to make is that even if you think that there is no love around the holidays, there is someone out there that cares about you and loves you. So don't give up on love, and try to be happy around this time of year. Happy Holidays!
If you are not feeling the love during the holidays, here are some tips on things you can do that will help.
If you are a supportive adult (i.e. a foster parent) here are some great tips on how you can help the youth you work with to feel more at home during the holidays.