To me, the Texas State Fair kind of kicks off the holiday season. I know that is strange, but in my mind it goes: State Fair, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I love seasons. Not that they really happen in Texas. I love to celebrate the changing of the seasons. I love holidays. Since I have become a foster parent, they have become somewhat bittersweet. We are coming up on our third holiday season as foster parents. We take different kids to the fair every year.
On Halloween, for the past two years, my family has looked almost completely different, save for Matt and I. Although, for two years in a row, I had a Dora. Two different toddler girls, same costume. I am happy to report that this year there will be no Dora.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Seasons and traditions for the transitional family
My niece has had different "cousins" at every birthday party she has had. We carve pumpkins with different kids. We do Thanksgiving with different kids. We decorate the tree. We do Christmas Eve. Christmas morning. Playing in the snow. Then in the new year, or the Spring -- they leave, we rest, mourn, and recover. Then we start all over again. I love introducing kids to new experiences. I love taking them to the Fair when they have never been. I love giving them a completely extravagant Christmas. I love taking them to pumpkin patches and going trick-or-treating. I love loading them up in the car in their pajamas, drinking hot cocoa, and looking at Christmas lights. I love introducing them to who we are and how we do things. I get to make special memories with each of them. I am thankful...and a little bit sad. Because every year when all these things roll around while I am taking my new babies to do all of these things, I remember all my babies who came before. My heart aches a little remembering. Remembering Abby sitting in the back seat of my car holding a pumpkin as big as she was. Thomas's face when he was scooping out pumpkin guts. Joy's delight at her awful Dora wig. How Panda looked in her panda costume. Each of their reactions to Santa.
Each of them handing me ornaments. Each of their faces glowing in the lights of the tree. Each of them on Christmas. Each of them on Santa's lap. Each of them in their Christmas Eve wear.
With every new memory, there is residue from the last and the one before that. There is the haunting question...is it a tradition if no one says, "Remember when?" Is it a tradition if no one giddily anticipates it? Is it a tradition if almost a completely different group participates every year? This year will be the first time that we have a child for two seasons in a row. I am thankful for the permanency of Isaiah and yet, I'm simultaneously considering if next year I will be wondering how Eric and Carolina are doing. If I will be remembering their faces as I take pictures of some different kids.
I remember my first Christmas as a momma, driving to Christmas Eve service and having the harsh realization that most of my first Christmas' with kids in my life will also be my last with them.
I always pray that during these magical times, that even for a second we drop the "foster" and somehow we are just a family. That when, and if, they remember that they can look back on this ultimately scary, sad, and traumatic time in their life and say, "Even though I was away from my family, I was with a family."
Traditions and seasons as a transitional family are messy, ever-changing, and achingly bitter sweet. People, places, things, songs, and activities seasoned with thebitter grief of remembering and the sweet joy of experiencing.