Christmas for me is a time of reflection of the journey that the year has brought… along with uncountable squeals of excitement in the morning that starts with my Dad reading Luke 2 and ends with wrapping paper everywhere, new toys, and the gooey mess of a cinnamon roll all over at least one child’s face.
Each year the members of my family (there are a bunch of them, but we will get to that in a minute) get an ornament that represents something big they did that year. I love getting to pull them out each year and pondering the memories they bring, but like most things they also bring a tinge of sadness.
For the past five years I have had the blessing of celebrating Christmas with the kids my family has fostered. Ten beautiful toddlers and babies who were taken away from their parents and placed in a stranger’s home, so what did they do big that year? They moved. They moved away from what they knew. They moved from the people who tried to take care of them but couldn’t. They moved into a stranger’s house. How do you represent that in a Christmas ornament? You can’t. So instead you get them their favorite action figure or an animal to hang on the tree, for some, it was a “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament. But God works in ways we do not understand, and most of the kids we have had the privilege of caring for went back to their parents at the signature of the judge, leaving us with maybe two hours to get their stuff together and say goodbye to them. In the chaos of it all you don’t think to get their ornament, so they have stayed with us and each year we hang them up on the tree because no matter what is on the legal documents they will forever be a part of our family.
This year, my family had the blessing of adopting three siblings who have been in our care since 2016. This is their third Christmas with us, but their first Christmas picking out their very own ornament to celebrate their “something big” that happened to them that they want to remember forever. I wouldn’t change the past five Christmases because they are a part of the journey Christ has set out for me. They make me thankful for the family I have and the tradition that brings so much joy and hurt. Take a moment and reflect on the memories that make you thankful and why they make you thankful. The moments that made you laugh until you cried or made you step out of your comfort zone in complete fear, but it turned out to be life changing. Think about the moments that happened that felt small but were huge for your future. The ones that seemed simple, like picking out a Christmas ornament, but will affect your life forever. Don’t take this Christmas for granted because there will never be a Christmas like it again.
Joslyn Nelkie first attended SSI in 2016 and fell in love with the atmosphere and the people. She developed an interest in politics and political campaigns at the age of thirteen and continues to be involved in her not-so-free free time. Joslyn enjoys spending time with family and helping out on the family farm, and is blessed with 15 siblings through the foster care system.
Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the position of the Student Statesmanship Institute. SSI is a non-profit educational organization and provides this blog as a platform for those who have been involved in our program to engage and share thoughts related to current events, issues of the day, and personal experiences, but does not necessarily endorse the content therein.