Advent (adventus-coming or coming into)
The season of Advent is upon us! This year it begins on December 2 and goes through December 24. It is a time of great anticipation and hope as we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus. For many children who come into foster care, seasons of advent are not filled with joy, hope, or celebration. A foster child may feel confused and sad during the holiday season. He or she may want to be home for Christmas. The grief of not being with his/her birth family combined with the desire to enjoy celebrations with his/her foster family can cause emotional stress in the child.
Foster parents can help the child during the holiday season by talking to him/her before the celebrations begin. Ask the child to share his/her traditions and explain what traditions your family has as well. If the child can communicate his/her beliefs and customs, try to incorporate them into your own home. This reminds the child how important and valuable he/she is. It is also a reminder that his/her birth family is important too.
One of the ways our family helped our foster children feel comfortable in our home was to include them in planning our advent activities. All the children had input on special outings, games, and family evenings together. It was a great time of incorporating new ideas with traditional ones. A calendar was created with all celebrations and activities written down so that everyone knew what to expect and when.
Some advent activities include reading Christmas books aloud, going ice-skating or to the movies, baking cookies, putting together a gingerbread house, playing Christmas charades, Christmas bingo, Christmas Dictionary, Christmas minute to win it games, looking at house lights with hot chocolate, reading the Nativity Story, and more. We have been doing advent activities for many years now. Each year it can be different. Some seasons are simpler with few activities, while some seasons have games galore.
Because the holidays can be difficult for your foster child, it is helpful to have a time each day to connect and slow down for a moment. With a little preparation, the advent season can be a wonderful time for your foster child, one that may last in his/her memory for a life time. May the coming weeks be a time to love one another well and celebrate the hope and joy that we have in the birth and coming of our Savior.