Last night we decided to put up the Christmas tree. Christmas can be such a difficult time for the youth we work with that we were unsure if the youth would want to get involved or not. Christmas can bring up a lot of painful memories for them. Everyone knows that Christmas is a time for family and friends but what if you don’t have any? It can be a lonely time for our youth.
The youth workers got all the decorations ready and quietly started decorating the tree. It was so heartwarming to see the youth come to join in one by one. At first everyone worked in contented silence and then the chatting began. The girls started telling stories about their different Christmas stories and what Christmas meant to them whether it is good memories or bad.
One young girl spoke about how she had never had any presents as a child. Her parents had addiction issues of their own and it was left to her to try to look after her younger sisters even though she was just a child herself. She spoke about how difficult it was to see her sisters go hungry. She spoke about how she always felt she must have done something really bad because Santa always brought gifts to the other kids at school but never came to her or her sisters.
She talked about how a school friend had given her a Christmas present of a book when she was 13. She said it brought tears to her eyes. Her friend said “Hey, it’s only a book!” and didn’t understand just how much it meant to her. She was so thankful and grateful that someone cared enough to give her a gift and remember her at Christmas time. She still has that book! The other girls joined in with stories of their own. Some were uplifting, some heartbreakingly sad, some hilariously funny. It was such a special moment to share with these amazing young women, listening to them having the strength to share their special Christmas stories while putting up the Christmas tree.