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The holiday season is amongst us, and yet some people do not exhibit holiday cheer. At least, not in the same way that others assume it will manifest when it comes to Christmas, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. In all honesty, I am one of those individuals who exhibit holiday cheer in the way that most would not think. This is due to many factors, all stemming from my experience within foster care.

I want to start by saying that not physically exhibiting holiday cheer is not a bad thing. It does not mean that I am not family oriented, or that the holidays are traumatic for me. I, and others like me, just have a different outlook on what the holidays mean, and that is perfectly okay. For me, that just means that I do not believe that the last three months of the year should be the time when people are on their best behavior, giving back, or giving to others. Those qualities should be something that you are displaying year round.

For those who may consider doing something to help engage those “less cheery” individuals in the holiday festivities, I offer two distinct pieces of advice. First, think about the delivery of your efforts and how it will be felt. Sometimes, even the most heartfelt and sincere efforts can leave the intended recipient offended. For me, it is highly offensive when people assume that I do not possess holiday cheer. In fact, I have spent many years trying to “fix” myself based on comments where others assume that my way is wrong because it does not align with theirs. This may be because I do not go out of my way to decorate, be extra cheerful, or get extra gifts. That doesn’t mean that I do not care. When it comes to my family and friends, there is nothing more important to me than helping them out and spending time with them, and they know that. We have an understanding that I am maintaining this attitude year round, and not just during the holiday season.

My second point is this: people like me, who go through adverse experiences, are not broken and in need of fixing. Just because I have different values and opinions about how I should conduct myself, does not mean that I am wrong. While it is true that my experience in foster care has shaped the way that I think about the holiday season, it is also true that my current values are not necessarily rooted in trauma from my personal experiences in foster care. As an adult, I am capable of making my own decisions, without lingering on the past.

So, what does that mean? Well, for starters, I do not believe the holiday season should be one of the few times of the year where everyone is giving and cheerful. I believe if people took that energy and mind frame, and applied it to everyday, then a lot of people would benefit. Second, diversity in culture and personal preference should be encouraged. Differences are what make us unique, and should bring us closer together, not further apart. So, this holiday season I encourage celebration, I encourage giving, but I also encourage you to keep up that attitude all year around and through the next holiday season as well. Really think about if you are portraying yourself to be the person you want others to see you as, not just during the holiday season, but all year round.

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We welcome submissions of articles, poetry, artwork, and photography from our young readers who have experience in the foster care system and/ or homelessness. If you want to be, or have been, published in the Mockingbird Times visit www.mockingbirdsociety.org, call us at (206) 407-2134 or email us at youthprograms@ mockingbirdsociety.org. Note: Incoming letters to the editor and correspondence to youth under 18 years should be addressed to the Mockingbird Times and will be opened first by adult editorial staff.