It’s the most wonderful time of the year! This is the time when we, as a society, promote things like gratitude, giving, family, and friendship. We want to encourage people to slow down and appreciate all of the things in their lives that they may have taken for granted through the rest of the year. But for some, this time of year is not a reminder of all the things that they have but of all the things they don’t.
For displaced children, especially, this time of year is difficult because they are confronted almost constantly with the reminder that they are not with their families. They get to listen to their friends at school, at church, in the community talk about where they’re going or who is coming over—all the while they are probably wondering if their family is even going to remember to call them.
The excitement of the holiday season is often overshadowed by the anxiety of knowing that everything can change in an instant. And while change is a constant in every person’s life, the very nature of being a displaced child includes a level of uncertainty that even adults would try to avoid. These children don’t always know from one week to the next who they are going to be living with or even where they’re going to be living. There is a constant knowledge that their entire life could be uprooted at a moment’s notice.
This is not to say that they are ungrateful for what they have, only that they are keenly aware of how much they are missing. They miss the consistency of knowing that they will see the same people at every holiday. They miss the traditions and the history and the inside jokes that come with being around the same people year after year.
And the worst thing about these circumstances is that there is no easy solution. No fairytale happy ending. Regardless of what happens in the future, if the child returns to their families or not, they still have to live with the knowledge that at one point in their lives their family was unavailable to them. That’s not an easy thing to live with.
But the good news is that it’s not impossible.
With a support system of caregivers, teachers, friends, and counselors these children can learn to navigate the insecurities and conflicting emotions that come with being displaced so that they can truly enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.