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Eventually we all have to face the holidays. No matter how much pain you face, the weeks continue, the months pass by; and the holidays eventually arrive, ready or not.
Your life may be similar to mine this year. We have a family that is completely torn apart due to the drug use/abuse of a family member; and the placement of my grandchildren in my home.
My family quickly fell apart when the children were removed from my mother, their great grandmother, and placed in my home (the original CPS placement). My mother immediately started contacting all our family and friends and told them the most unbelievable lies about us in order to get them on her “side.” As if there were an actual side in this nightmare. Her ultimate goal was to completely isolate us from family and friends; which for the most part she was very successful.
Facing the holidays has been especially painful for me since this all began. My daughter Anna, the kid’s mother, is in a treatment facility this Thanksgiving, which I am so incredibly thankful for. Last year at this time she was on the streets, there was a constant fear that she wouldn’t survive the lifestyle she had chosen. Now she’s safe, she’s finally out of jail after 8 long months, and I was even able to visit her this past weekend and give her a hug.
After thinking about last couple of years, the sadness of the losses and the traditions the kids felt like they were missing out on by not being at their great grandmother’s house, where we previously had always gone. This year I decided it was time for us to start some new traditions to go with our new lives. The kids were completely on board with the idea, excited to have something that’s just ours.
Because of George and Savannah’s trauma issues, anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc., I spend quite a bit of time reading on those subjects. This year I came across an article about the changes that can be made in the structure of the brain by being grateful. The science is absolutely amazing on this topic, certainly something worth a try!
I believe just to make sure I’m really paying attention, when God is trying to get something through my thick head, he commonly reminds me of things I’ve read or been shown in some other way with scripture, songs at church, on the radio. Everywhere I go there is a reminder until I finally open my ears enough to figure out what he’s trying to show me or tell me. After reading this article every song I heard, every scripture I read, every show I watch (I’m a Hallmark fanatic) was all about being thankful.
And I do have a lot to be thankful for this year. I am so very thankful that my daughter is safe, alive, sober, and moving toward a normal life again. I am thankful that two of my grandchildren are safe and with me. I’m thankful for my job, my incredible co-workers who are so kind and supportive. And I’m extremely thankful we’ve made it through the adoption process and no longer have to deal with the system.
So, starting November 1st this year we started a Thankful Tree.
It’s nothing fancy. I went to Big Lots and purchased a small Christmas Tree (which gave me a good reason to put a tree up early:). We went to Walmart and found a bag of 60 small cloth fall leaves. Every evening before the kids and I go to bed we write on the leaves what we are thankful for and hang them with ornament hangers. Any time Bea comes over she adds one of her own. She and my niece have actually started something similar in their home to remind them how much they do have to be thankful for, even when life gets hard. Jake has even put a few leaves on our tree.
The kids love it. It brings a smile to their faces every night, and that makes my heart smile. I think it’s a tradition that will stick. A new tradition for our new life.
This journey is a difficult one, but we need to remember there is always something to be thankful for. God has a plan in it all, and someday we will be able to look back and see that more clearly.
Are you starting any new traditions with your kids/grandkids/or kinship kids this year? I’d love to hear about them!
Happy Thanksgiving friends. Be Blessed Grateful, even in the storm!