Saturday, December 20, 2008

First Christmas in years

I always ask the kids if there is any particular treat they want for Christmas. Gary wants to make white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. I think David is the one who wanted fudge.

Gary mentioned that he hadn't had Christmas outside a group home in years. I asked about the year he was with his aunt. He said no, that she used to have him taken back into detention for something or other when she didn't want him around, so he was in juvie for that Christmas too. He's sixteen. He hasn't had a Christmas outside a group facility of one sort or another since he was eleven. No presents to speak of because even the most recent group home was a juvenile justice facility and those projects where people give presents to kids in group homes don't go to the detention facilities.

There is part of me that would like to try to make it up to him with a big Christmas, but I think it is better to keep it calm and quiet.

I'm going to make ginger bread people today. In past years I have decorated them with mini M&M's, but I can't find them this year. [Update: Brian walked to the drug store and got some for me.] Tomorrow Brian says he will bake golden bars (little more than brown sugar and butter). Andrew and his girlfriend are going to bake more cookies on Monday. That along with the cookies Gary wants to make should be good.


  1. That is so incredibly sad. He is such a nice kid and he deserves to have a nice holiday.

    I'm betting that you are right to keep it simple. It sounds like just being home for Christmas is a big enough deal. Give him a big hug and a big cookie.

    Why don't kids in detention get gifts?

  2. There is no one answer to the detention center and gift issue. Some facilities very much restrict what possessions kids may have there. The detention center near us is very much a teenager's jail. They spend time in class, but they are allowed to have almost nothing in their cells.

    Other places also restrict personal property. It isn't necessarily to punish the kids. The kids are often not allowed to have any private, secure place to keep things so things get stolen.

    Some places allow the kids to have more stuff, but no one gives them anything. Next time you talk to someone who is doing some sort of Christmas Angel project for kids, ask if any of those presents are going to juvenile justice facilities. I'm pretty sure you will be told no.

    I could be wrong. I would love to be wrong. Teenagers in jail for fighting, selling drugs, vandalism, etc. don't inspire feelings of generosity.

    And, as you are figuring out, Gary's family hasn't given him presents since -- I'm not sure when.

  3. Wow! I know that even at the various residentials my former foster daughter has been in that the kind of possessions she can have has varied greatly. Mostly w/ regard to her ability to remain safe to herself and others. Sometimes, certain things like CD players or tvs were "incentives". Although supposed to inspire appropriate behavior, it wasn't all that effective for her. But I could and did always give her gifts. In fact that was what I was doing at 8 a.m. this morning; mailing out her package so that it will be under the tree for her on Christmas morning. It is incredibly sad to me that she can't be with us for Christmas but it is an extremely hard holiday for her and even on the years we could have her here, there was sort of a feeling that we were walking on eggshells.

    I suppose if there is a plus in this, it is that Gary isn't looking to any specific recreation of a holiday memory and he will be likely open to enjoying what your family do together--which all sounds pretty wonderful.

  4. I am speechless. How do we expect these kids to become part of society if we don't treat them that way. Treating them this way will just help to ensure the majority of them will spend their whole lives in and out of jail. It is really a shame and I think one of the great failings of our society.

  5. Hmm, perhaps for next Christmas you could arrange to make Christmas a bit brighter for the kids in that facility? The cookies and fudge sound so good. Is there anyway for me to have some without having to actually make it?


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