Palmer Home for the Holidays
Every family has its traditions, especially when it comes to the holidays. Some you prepare for weeks in advance, others have happened spontaneously for years. Like other families, Palmer Home staff and children have their holiday traditions as well.
The season starts early with decorating the Lindamood building and cottages for the Christmas Open House that happens each December. Volunteers, staff and children help prepare to present the campus to donors and other visitors throughout the holiday season.
As Christmas decorations go up, caregivers from each cottage begin to discuss the Thanksgiving meal. Each cottage will prepare specific foods in their cottages and bring them to the main dining hall where all the children will enjoy the Thanksgiving meal together. Just like many other families, we celebrate pot-luck style, with everyone gathered together as one big family.
The first part of December brings expectations of Christmas holidays and end-of-semester work for children both at Palmer Home school and elsewhere. When all the work is finished, however, it’s time for the Christmas fun to begin! On our campuses, all the decorating and preparations pay off when the community gathers to join us for our Christmas Open House. It’s a fun time of celebration and sharing our mission with those who support us so well that helps kick off our Christmas season.
The Friday before Christmas is reserved for one of Palmer Home’s most cherished events, Christmas Traditions Dinner, on both campuses. The children, caregivers, staff, staff families and sponsors come together for a delicious meal on campus. As the meal comes to a close, several children participate in reading the Christmas story from the Bible, reminding us all of the real reason we celebrate.
Afterwards, the festivities transition outside, spilling out onto the grounds. All of Palmer Home’s staff and children gather together, and everyone receives a candle. Drake Bassett, Palmer Home President & CEO, calls out the name of each staff member and child, starting with the person who has been at Palmer Home the longest and ending with the newest member of our family. As each person’s name is called, their candle is lit. Once every face is aglow in the light of their candle, we sing a few carols together to bring an end to the evening.
On the following day, children and caregivers gather in their own cottages to share Christmas together and open gifts. Palmer Home is blessed by many churches and individuals who make donations towards gifts, making this sweet time together in the cottages possible every Christmas.
Many of the children will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with their sponsor families. This treat is about more than just gifts; these sponsor families allow the children to experience the way another family celebrates Christmas. Children without sponsors, or who cannot be with their sponsors on Christmas Day, enjoy this time of celebration in their cottage with their caregivers.
Traditions change as families change. New traditions begin, and others fade away. Families who serve as foster caregivers or who have recently adopted, may find themselves struggling to help their children adapt to new or different traditions. As you anticipate the holiday season in your own home, Whole Child Initiative has a few tips on how to help you make this transition.