Some of my fondest memories as a child are of the Christmas traditions we held as a family. The best memory of all is Christmas Eve at my Grandmother’s house. My aunts, uncles, many cousins, and folks who may or may not have been either, but were somehow still family would gather at my Grandmother’s old farm house. We would run and play, filled with excitement knowing it would not be long before my Uncle Billy would don his Santa hat and hand out presents.
I can still smell the old farmhouse, feel the sloping floors, and see my Grandmother standing in the kitchen. She was happy knowing she was surrounded by so many people she loved deeply. It was the most wonderful time of the year. And to this day, it remains one of my most cherished memories… Christmas Eve at Grandma Hart’s House.
The Traditions and Memories We Bring
Maybe my childhood memories linked to those Christmas traditions are similar to many of yours. But it is also very likely that they are vastly different. That is one of the many beautiful things about Crossnore Communities for Children. Everyone who comes to serve the children we love brings their own beliefs, traditions, and memories with them.
I recently talked with some of our foster parents about traditions. Not just their traditions, but the traditions of the children who are now part of their families. Some children come to Crossnore with sweet memories of candy, family, and laughter. Others join our community with memories they may want to forget. For foster families and cottage parents, the holiday season is a great time to honor old traditions and create new ones.
When my wife and I were foster parents, we shared a tradition with our foster kids that started 14 years ago with our birth son. On Christmas Eve, everyone gets to open one gift from under the tree. Our tradition lives on 21 years later.
How to Support Family Traditions and Create New Ones
How do we support and create new traditions with children who come to us with vastly different backgrounds and beliefs?
- The most important thing for Crossnore foster and cottage parents is to create a safe space for children to process their feelings. The holidays can be difficult. Kids need to know they are safe and accepted, first and foremost.
- We must have an open conversation with the children in our care about what the holidays look like in each of our homes. Children in foster care don’t like surprises. Open Communication is key.
- As best as possible, we consider how to honor traditions and beliefs of the children we are serving. Is there an opportunity to incorporate a special tradition into your family celebration? This will go a long way in making sure a child feels seen, valued, and included in your family.
Traditions Foster Closeness and Belonging
Traditions foster closeness among family. They provide stability and create a feeling of belonging. These are all things we want to provide the children in our care. It’s important for us to celebrate our differences, as well as our common interests. Doing so helps unite and educate us.
Grandma Hart is 104 and still alive. But we don’t gather in her old farm house anymore. That tradition is a thing of the past. But the memories are vivid and still make me smile to this day. As you gather with friends and family this holiday season, may memories of traditions past fill your heart and bring a smile to your face.
I can still smell Grandma Hart’s chicken and pastry in this very moment.