Cookies, Stockings, Lights and Love- I hope my daughter will have good memories of our holiday traditions.

Six years ago was the first time that I didn’t have to rush through the holidays with my daughter, who I call Little Mama. After three years in foster care, she was finally home to stay.

Holidays when Little Mama was in foster care were rough. The first year, when Little
Mama was 1 year old, the agency invited my husband and me to a Christmas party. At one moment I had to walk away from the party holding Little Mama in my arms.

Stolen Moments

Her foster mother asked me to walk with her to her car and told me quietly that she’d bring Little Mama to stay with me from Christmas Day to New Year’s. I was so grateful that I wanted to hug her, but she told me not to, because the social worker was watching.

The next year, we had her home for the full two weeks. But in 2003 a new caseworker only allowed us to have her for two days at Thanksgiving and Christmas. That year, I recorded the Christmas cartoon specials on TV. When Little Mama came on her weekend visit, we watched them together. Little Mama, curled up and wrapped in a warm quilt, rested her head on my lap. I stroked her long black hair.

A Time to Give

Every Thanksgiving, Little Mama helps me make a big turkey with stuffing, candied yams, potato salad, corn bread, arroz con gandules, corn on the cob and cranberry sauce, as well as two apple pies and eight pumpkin pies to give out to friends.

Cooking a ton of food on Thanksgiving means a lot to me. For years, my husband and I were using drugs and we had nothing. My husband’s mother would give us a plate of food. I hated having to take it but ate it because I was so hungry.

Now that I’m clean, I can be generous. I send Hector’s mom a tray of my food. She always asks for my pumpkin pie.

Baking with My Daughter

On Thanksgiving, while the food is cooking and the parade is on TV, I put up our plastic Christmas tree. We hang the ornaments and turn on the lights and Little Mama’s face lights up with joy.

Little Mama loves to bake with me and crack the eggs by herself. We make sugar cookies, ginger bread cookies, chocolate chip cookies and cup cakes, with Little Mama mixing while I clean around her. I enjoy helping Little Mama smash the cookie cutters into the dough.

Later, I prepare the frosting and sprinkles and let Little Mama decorate. We wrap up all the treats and gave them out to friends. This is our mother and daughter tradition.

Ghosts of Holidays Past

In the past, the holidays were a painful time for me. I had other children before Little Mama, but they were all adopted. I try not to dwell too much on thinking, “What if?”

I also don’t have too many good memories of my childhood. I haven’t seen my mom or dad since I was 5, and the adoptive family I lived with abused me.

But I do have good memories of Christmas. My adoptive family decorated the whole living room and staircase and had a tree so big with ornaments and lights. We each had stockings stuffed with candy. Those are holiday traditions that I’ve passed on to Little Mama. I want to give her good memories that she can keep in her heart.

When Little Mama came home, she and I bought new red stockings, velvet and glitter glue. We cut out snowmen and Christmas trees and candy canes. I did the names in glitter on top and Little Mama glued the velvet on. We hang up those stockings every year.

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