Replacing domestic abuse with joy and hope
Think for a moment about your favorite childhood Christmas traditions. Most families have a variety of things they do and the food they eat only at the holidays, and just thinking about any of them can propel your mind back into childhood.
We often take the existence of those traditions and the joy they create for granted. In some ways, they form the foundations for families across the generations. That’s part of why Christmas is so important at Sheltering Wings.
When families spend Christmas with us, they’ve left their homes behind, and often also have to do without the traditions surrounding the holidays. They can’t visit with relatives or go from store to store. Typically, they’ve left most of their possessions behind, so the familiar Christmas ornaments and special stuffed animals aren’t there to reinforce memories. It can be very difficult and depressing.
So our staff and volunteers ensure that Christmas is an extraordinary celebration. We help the families living under our roof create new traditions. The mothers and children participate in activities like baking and decorating cookies. Santa Claus makes a special visit to listen carefully to the wishes of our youngsters, and groups bring a variety of celebrations and other activities that build up the excitement. When Christmas morning arrives, our families open their doors and the children’s eyes grow wide as they witness the generosity of our community.
Eventually, families move on to safe, independent lives outside our doors, but we know they bring many of the traditions we’ve shared with them, to start new foundations that will live on through generations.
Those traditions are part of why Christmas is so important here. There’s another part that’s even more important to the families we serve: they learn the true meaning of Christmas, as the day when we celebrate the great gift of love and forgiveness that God placed in a manger so many Christmases ago. We share the story to give hope to those who have never heard it and to reinforce and strengthen the faith of those who are more familiar with its message. And as they look around to everything our staff and volunteers do, they see Christ’s love manifested through our actions. It makes the most wonderful time of year even more amazing.