For some of our youth, the holidays, with their bright lights and inherent cheer, represent what they had to leave behind: their often-broken families and strained relationships. During the whole year, and specifically during this time, I honour their strength, resilience, and good sense of humour because when the bad memories arise, those qualities help keep our youth’s spirits up.
We have been blessed with a brand-new donated Christmas tree that replaced our slightly tilted one. We received brand new decorations and even an advent calendar that gives the youth little presents leading up to Christmas. Seeing their disbelief and pleasantly surprised faces when I tell them I have a little gift for them in the office has been truly magical.
We were lucky to have a couple of gingerbread houses to build as part of the advent calendar presents for the day, and a real Christmas miracle happened. Lisa, one of our youth from Rights of Passage, who is often quiet and struggles to socialize with the other youth, came to me, very excited, wanting to build the gingerbread house. I told her that we should get more youth involved and she agreed.
Suddenly, we had four more girls helping. And then, unexpectedly, I hear the loudest and most contagious laugh coming from Lisa as she was making a bit of a mess with the frosting. We all went quiet for a second, and then we started laughing too. Her laugh became louder as she started making funny faces on the gingerbread man with frosting. It was the funniest most heartwarming moment of this Christmas season so far.
I can tell the spirit of Christmas lives here, among all these amazing young people. It also lives inside every little present, Christmas light, and every little nutcracker. It stays up late with them, enjoying a cup of hot chocolate, and cheers them up when they feel sad. It gives them good memories that will last forever and helps them look forward to a brighter future. It bakes with them and tells them they are loved and that they have a whole community surrounding them.
To all the donors, staff and community “elves” that are making Christmas in ROP happen, thank you. There are no words to describe the smiles, the warmth and the positive energy I see on the youth right now. Thanks to you, the Christmas spirit lives here, in ROP.
Shared by Susana, Youth Worker at Rights of Passage (ROP)