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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Living in your car with children, part 3


Holidays might not mean much to us adults anymore, but it does mean so much to a child, in any situation. Don't allow hard times make you forget that. Don't allow your situation to harden your heart, imagination, or your empathy. No matter how hard things are going for you, it is best to remember that it is ok for you to allow some joy in your life, especially with children in the car.

Holidays may not seem a necessary when you are talking about prepping, but it actual is, as holidays give you an excuse to not only indulge a little, but brighter your out look and help keep your own sanity. Holidays that are filled with joy to a young 'un, help keep them more positive, and will help them become more caring adults.

Money isn't the important part of a celebration.

New Year's

Many communities have fireworks displays at midnight. Find a free paper, grab one out of the trash or off a counter (that someone has discarded). Find out where and when and if the place you are staying has such a display. If they do, take the kids to a free parking area, allow them to stay up, or wake them up for the display. New years day, you can take the opportunity to talk to your kids about what they want for that year. Make plans as a family.

Valentines day

Maybe not the most important holiday, but can be a good one for your children. As with any holiday, try to find the time to be creative and playful with your children. Teach them a little bit about crafting. This is something they can do with found paper, and cheap scissors. When you are homeless, you get to know other's that call your parking lot home as well. Teach your children to be charitable, even in the hardest of circumstances, and have them make a card, or just cutting out a heart from newspaper, and go with them as they give it to the person of their choosing. A "bum", a Store keeper, a care giver or teacher. You yourself should take this moment to leave penny candy for them to find.

I was blessed to have parents (even with all their faults) that taught me to be charitable. Even as a teenager, homeless, broke, and hardened, I stumbled upon opportunities to help someone else. Even if it was just bringing a smile to their faces. It does a lot to help your morale.

St. Patrick's Day

Simple to wear green, but to add a little life to your car, set out traps to catch a Leprechaun. When your children aren't looking, place a little tid bit of something in the trap. Just a little something something to brighten their day and to get excited about. In my family we were always taught that leprechauns were evil, not the goody goodies that you see today. The reeked havoc in your lives, as they are spiteful, greedy creatures. I was outside of San Fransisco, and I was telling the story to a fellow homeless man. Next thing I knew, traps were being set up in the alley by other teens, all waiting eagerly to see if they caught one. It didn't matter that know one really believed in these little creatures, it was the possibility, the hope, and the tittering excitement that came by just setting them out. To this day, I wish they would have caught just a little something.

April Fool's Day

This is a great holiday for children. They will spend the entire day attempting to fool you. Even though you know better, allow them to feel like they one upped you. And don't forget to join in on the fun, try to one up them a bit, but unsuccessfully for the younger ones. It is a wonderful feeling when you can pull one over on your parents (all in fun of course)


Even if you are not a Christian, and have no other faith, Easter can be important to your children. All their friends at school will be talking about it. And it is very difficult for a child to cope with the fact that they, with no other faith, can not tell the same tales. Lying then creeps into the situation. Lieing isn't acceptable when your are in a house, but it is worse when you are living in your car. You need to be able to learn when your child is just story telling and when they are blatantly lieing. Remember the boy that cried wolf? Same problem when you live in your car. Honesty has to be their to keep your kids from with holding or lieing about important information. Now I am not saying that Easter prevents lieing, I kind of went off into another thought. Back to Easter. Churches, once again you can participate in a churches activities. If you wish to give your children a small token, like so many families do, once again the Dollar stores are very helpful.

Mother's and Father's Day

Children will be reminded about this day through caregivers. Most the time, the caregivers have crafts for the kids to do. However you will more than likely hear a child ask if they can buy something for the other parent. Gently suggest that you make something, repair something, sing them a song. Don't out right deny this holiday. In your children's life these days are super important. They want to please you and make you happy. Even your rebellious teen will at least mummble something to you. And that is a great feeling.

It didn't matter where I was, or what I had been through. I would find the time and a phone to call my parents on that day. I might have been angry with my mother, but still felt the pull to remmind her, and myself that she did/does love me, and I her.


The most important day ever! You might heed the night before, mischief's night. Some cities and towns get hit hard. You need to be on your guard on that night. Halloween however is all about the kids. Second hand sores are wonderful places to create inexpensive costumes. There are many things that can be created out of using every day clothes and some make up. My son is going as Bruce Cambell this year (Evil Dead) and in the past we have been the invisible man, dark man, a pilot, and so forth. Many Churches hold anti-Halloween fun houses that are scarier than most haunted houses, mainly because they remind you that you are indeed going to Hell. Mall's and small towns have trick or treat streets. Many of the businesses that you will be parked close too also hand out candy.

Veteran's Day

You are never too young, nor too poor to learn about American History or to be patriotic. I come from a Naval Family. My uncles where in the Army, and so was my brother. Growing up we were taught that we were to serve our Country, and that all those many men died with honor to keep me free. This is something that I too teach my children. And while my husband grew up living in a car, his father told him the importance of remembering all those that had died for us. This day is the perfect excuse to take your children to memorial walls, and services. This day is a wonderful opportunity to teach history, their history, our history. Make the time. I know things are bleak for you, but at this moment, many men and women had it worse than you. They died so that you can pull yourself up by the boot straps, and make a go of what ever comes your way. Even in homelessness, you should still be thankful that you live in the US. You also get to know some of your fellow "bums". Many of which are Vets. Some are more than happy to talk to you and your little ones about what they went through. Make sure however that they keep it age appropriate for your children. You really don't want to have to explain to you 5 year old, why that man had to shoot another child his/her same age. I have heard many stories like that. Thank them for their service, and be sure your children hear you say it.


This holiday is a difficult one. What exactly do you have to be thankful for? For your children, you have to get out of that funk. Denny's has inexpensive Thanksgiving meals. Free meals come through Churches, strangers that feel it will better their lives by helping you, police agencies, social workers, and your fellow car dwellers. In Detroit, we had a pot luck. We bought what we could afford, and joined together as though we were family. My belly hadn't had that much food in it for a long time. There was so much to be thankful for. We forgot about the cold, we forgot that most of us had no idea where we were going to sleep that night, we forgot that our families were so many miles away, we forgot that most of the time we were alone. So many run-a-ways, vets, mentally ill and battered women with their children huddled together in a public park. They cops left us alone that day. But not every community is that forgiving, and not every person in your situation will be so friendly. You will meet other families living in your car. Many will be surprised how many they actually find. Stick with the families, it's safer.


Keep Santa alive in your children's lives. Don't allow them to give up hope. Their will be a humongous urge to tell your children that Santa is dead, just so you can feel better about not being able to give them something. Have your children write letters. Once the letters are written, burn them. See the smoke from the burnt letter goes straight up to the North Pole, and into Santa's pocket, where it reforms into that same letter. It is the quickest way for Santa to get them. The chances are high that all your children want for Christmas is to see you smile again, for a bed for one night, new shoes, or clean clothes.

I want to leave you with a story about my husband and Santa. It was first posted on my blog a few years back. I will post a portion of it, and link to the rest.

Allow me to take you back in time, 20 some odd years back. To a time when White snake and Def Leopard reign supreme. A time where it was all about excess and me, me, me. If you wandered the streets of Denver Colorado during this time, that would be Christmas time 20 some odd years back, the streets would have been covered in snow, carolers out in full force, decorations to blind a normal persons eyesight, and crowds rushing about buying that must have Cabbage patch kid, too busy to notice the two little boys that walked meekly along, in worn through clothes.

“Santa will be here soon.”
“He never visited us before.” the smaller of the two boys replied. His older brother could only look down at him, not sure what to say. He knew that Santa had visited them before. But that was a long time ago, when they were very little.
“Maybe Santa will give us a hotel room on Christmas eve.” The older brother said, making an attempt to brighten his little brothers mood.
“Maybe.” the littlest tried to fight off the grin that was forming at the thought.

School had let out for winter break {or Christmas break as it was called then}, the brothers had no where to spend their days, as their parents both worked. Sometimes their mother would sneak them out some hot lunch during these times, but more times then not they were on their own, filling the time by looking into store windows and imagining finding those toys under the Christmas tree.

The Story continues here>>>

And that my friends is the best reason to not fore go holiday celebrations.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another great post Phelan. I linked this to my post about vehicle maintenance. They go together well.

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