This is the first holiday season in twenty-four years that I’m not working in foster care. But I find that my head and heart are there anyway. Holiday time in the foster care world is kind of rough. Foster care staff, and lots of parents, go out of their way to make it special, with parties, gifts, and good cheer, but no matter how you cut it, these kids are not home for the holidays. There’s that old Perry Como tune:
Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays,
‘Cause no matter how far away you roam,
If you want to be happy in a million ways,
For the holidays,
You can’t beat home, sweet home.
And no matter how sweet home isn’t, most foster children feel just like the song says. This is a time when artmaking really helps kids. Birth parents and siblings are on every child’s mind, and decorations, cards, and gift-making rule. The world around us gets more colorful, and that gets reflected in the art. The energy generated by all this activity helps children feel less isolated, more engaged and part of the world, and allows them to express their connections to others in non-verbal but very concrete ways.
Images of houses are always common in the art of foster children, but never more than during the holidays, when the air just seems thick with longing for home.