Healing Holidays

Right now Thanksgiving and Christmas are coexisting in our house. I like this moment when one holiday unfolds into the next. It’s a season of gratitude and joy all rolled into one. Since this is Jordan’s first holiday with us, it might seem that this season will be extra delightful. It might seem like there will be an extra dose of gratitude and joy in our house.

And there is.
Underneath all of the anxiety
and stress
and hurt
and extreme emotions.

When kids have histories before coming home, the holidays can kick up all kinds of feelings. One moment they are comfortable with family — hanging an ornament, mixing cookie dough, playing a game — and the next they are mad because they don’t have as many ornaments as someone else, or they didn’t get the first taste of cookie dough or the game isn’t going in their favor.

Then they are screaming, crying, flailing because their histories are hard and they didn’t mean to hit or kick and they want to love, buy instead unkindness spews out of their mouths. They sit in time out and go to bed early and miss out simple pleasures.

We hug them and reassure them that it will be okay and this is forever and they are loved.
Loved more.
Loved forever.

Their joy returns and for a few brief moments they are secure.

It is here that the holidays are delightful. We want to linger in this moment of hope. This place where we know children can heal and love is the catalyst.

It never lasts long enough.

But right now, as I’m looking at a pumpkin and a star both in the same room, with white lights and yellow gourds taking up the same space, I’m reminded that transformation is possible.  Just because I remove the pumpkin doesn’t mean I forget the gratitude. Just because they’ve been plucked out of foster care doesn’t mean they forget the hard.

The white lights twinkle and the music plays and evergreen and spice fill our noses and I’m reminded transformation is powerful. We can fill the crevices of hard with love. We can transform the way things have always been. Our kids are survivors who are learning to celebrate.

In the midst of the fits, we are celebrating. It is this that makes the holidays delightful. Because the truth is: Christmas heals hurt souls.

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  1. And as the days go, that basket of needs will feel less empty, as they have for the others, won't they? Time does heal, but being 'in the moment' is challenging. Happy Thanksgiving with all its joys, Ruth. I'm sending an extra helping of patience along with the pie!

  2. Ruth- You have captured this season with our kiddos so perfectly. Even now, ten years later, my guys still struggle with this time of year– partly, I think because of some really hard memories. How great for Jordan that he has a mom who understands. The Ayres family is always in my prayers. Wishing you the richest blessings of this season!

  3. I hadn't thought out the timing of it being Jordan's first holidays with you. I am happy for your family to be celebrating this season together for the first time. I can't say how often I think about how lucky Jordan is to be with your family (and I know you feel lucky to have him as well). It seems like writing, as is often the case, is a means for you to be able to process all the dynamics and consider how to continually move forward as the best mom you can be for him.

  4. Ruth, such a powerful post. How special to be celebrating your first holidays with Jordan. I feel that I've been along for some of the journey. I still remember that giant pencil! Blessings as you continue to celebrate in the midst of the fits.
    I can't help thinking that the Lord feels the same way about us. Longing to help us transform our ordinary lives into hope as we contemplate his coming. And always along the way, fits in the midst of the celebrations and His everlasting patience with our efforts. Thanks for sharing.