I’ve been partying so heartily this month that I completely forgot about blogging. But last Wednesday, as we were decorating the Promise House Christmas Tree, I once again became awe-struck by the ability of our teens to be……just kids; and was inspired to tell you.
As we pulled out the decorations, decided how to do the lights, discussed which ornaments to put where, and ate pounds of popcorn, all the trauma, sadness, instability, abuse, fear, and uncertainty of their lives took a very distant backseat to the fun of the hour. We had babies, toddlers, tweens, teens, young adults, and us old staffers laughing, talking, decorating, and eating together as the tree blossomed into probably our best Christmas Tree Ever!
Even the shy ones got in on the act. With a little coaxing, a very timid 15-year old girl, who hates crowds, accepted the ornaments I brought her and found just the right spot on the tree for them. The older teens were helping the young kids reach to new heights (literally) while the toddlers wobbled around playing with and dropping the shatter-proof (thank goodness) ornaments.
When completed, the tree shone like magic and the kids, stuffed with popcorn and good cheer, shone right along with it. A good time was had by all.
I’ve often said that one of our most important roles in the lives of our kids is to be an anchor in their many-times stormy lives. Although we facilitate family visits, parties, overnight stays, and gift giving during the holidays with our teens and their families, there are always those kids who have no family, whose families fail to show or who disappoint, or kids who can’t be with their family for a variety of reasons.
Consequently, it is experiences like the one we shared last Wednesday that serve as the anchor for them; that help them remember they are cared about, even loved. Hopefully, some day when these kids are grown and decorating their own Christmas trees with their families, they will fondly remember a long-ago day of tree decorating at Promise House…..and the sanctuary provided for them on that day.
Harriet Boorhem is the president of Promise House, which provides a multitude of services to homeless youth in the Dallas area, and Youth Today's first online diarist.