GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018 - 26

grandfamilies

Grandfamilies - celebrating the holidays

For the 2.6 million grandparents raising their grandchildren across the U.S. the holidays can be a time for both celebration and pain.

BY JAIA LENT

T

he circumstances that led their grandchildren to come into their care
were often traumatic for the children and the grandparents. Finding
healthy ways to celebrate the holidays while respecting the painful
emotions they may conjure up can be difficult.

Sonya, a grandparent raising her grandchildren knows

this well. Sonya lives in Maryland and is a member of the Navajo nation. Her
son was tragically murdered the day after Thanksgiving in 2010. "As a family, it
took us a long time to be part of this festive occasion in other family settings.
We usually honor my son by going to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain where we
say prayers and follow our traditions. Sometimes we just cook my son's favorite foods. It just depends on how I and the kids feel." For Sonya, spending time
together as a family and remembering her son is what is important.

For Joan in Oregon, creating new traditions has been helpful to her

and her grandson who she has adopted. After experiencing abuse and neglect in
his parents' home, Joan's grandson came to live with her just a few days before
Christmas. Joan explains, "When he came to us that Christmas, I had already
packed away all of the ornaments I had while my daughter (his mother) was growing up-it was too painful. We started making new memories that are hearts
treasures today. The very first day he came to us, he (sitting in the child's seat of
a grocery cart) and I went and bought two churches and a house for a Christmas
village. Every year it became a treasured outing to go together and find one or
more pieces, even after he grew up when he'd come home from college or after
he married. Recently I scoured Goodwill and second-hand stores for same vintage
additions. This year I'm passing the village on to him, but I know we'll take his
daughters and go looking for something new for our ever-growing tradition."
Whether it's finding new traditions or spending time together in ritual
remembering loved ones, thoughtful planning for the holidays can help make
them rich and meaningful for grandfamilies.
26 GRAND

NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2018

CLICK for ideas to help families
who've experienced
loss or trauma celebrate
the holidays together.

Jaia Peterson Lent is Deputy Executive Director
of Generations United, a national organization
dedicated to improving lives. Home to the
National Center on Grandfamilies, Generations
United is a leading voice for issues affecting
families headed by grandparents or other
relatives.


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GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018

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