Tradition looms large for most people in December. Some of us get out a menorah and light Hanukkah candles. Others put up a Christmas tree. Most of us take for granted that we will spend time with family.
Not so for thousands of kids in the foster care system. These kids, especially those in group homes, feel as though they’re on the outside looking in on things so basic that most of us never stop to consider their fundamental importance to us.
“Christmas is a time where everyone comes together as family.”
So said a youth in Plummer’s group home. The thing is, this young man hasn’t lived with his family since he was five – he is 18 now. And yet, he identifies family as the defining element of Christmas. Not presents, not food, not decorations. Family.
While nothing can substitute for belonging to a forever family, thanks to people who care, Plummer and other agencies can help build and maintain holiday traditions that perhaps our kids will carry with them as they grow up.
At Thanksgiving we have a big meal with lots of turkey and pie. The dining room is set nicely with tablecloths and flowers. Before dinner, we each say what we’re thankful for.
At this time of year, we also ask our kids if there are particular gifts they’d like. The generosity of the community means we can get lots of things on these lists. Our group home becomes very busy as people deliver gifts that we hustle off to the attic before the boys get a peek. Day after day, people’s kindness is revealed.
Several days before Christmas, we have a big party. Before opening gifts, we read Twas the Night Before Christmas. You can usually hear a pin drop.
And then the present opening begins. Staff members circulate among the kids — oooing and aahing at their gifts, holding shirts up to see if they’ll fit — all the things a parent does.
This is one of the happiest and saddest days in Plummer’s group home. Like all children, our kids are thrilled to get gifts. But at the end of the day, the most important piece is missing from this tradition. Family.
We work hard every day to reconnect our kids with family. We are challenging the notion that teens don’t need families, or that somehow they don’t want families, because we have seen that this is not the case. And when we are successful, we know that we have provided the best gift of all, the gift of family.
Perhaps you will honor the tradition of giving during this holiday by becoming a foster parent. You don’t need to be rich, married, or own a fancy house. You just need to open your heart to a child who needs a family, like all children do.
Call today for more information, 978-935-9691 or visit plummeryouthpromise.org/our-programs/foster-care.
Thank you and happy holidays!