This is your annual reminder that the holidays is not a Hallmark movie for everyone.
I worked in juvenile justice group homes for almost 20 years, and the holidays were awful. I came to dread that time of year. Clients would act out more often and more violently for a LOT of reasons.
In a dysfunctional home, the holidays are a time of stress. Alcohol and drug abuse goes up, kids are inundated with images of families and things they don’t have, and abuse rates skyrocket. Add to that that the clients would build up their expectations for the holidays so high there was no way they could be fulfilled, and sometimes, parents don’t’ even show up for them.
We did everything we could do to keep things low key, and when I was a supervisor, I helped the staff understand why the holidays were hard, and how not to build it up as “the most wonderful time of the year”.
I worked hard to make sure that my staff could have the day off, usually working the day on my own, and to make the day special for the clients who had to be at a group home on Thanksgiving or Christmas, I’d set up a great meal, bring in movies, and video games and let them relax and hang out like teenagers.
I keep seeing “Shame these businesses for being open on Holidays”, but hospitals, group homes and the like don’t close. When I needed a place to go get a meal on a holiday, I was grateful for the restaurants that were open.
I have worked at and attended movie theaters on holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas are insanely busy days at movie theaters) and so on and so on.
And the stores wouldn’t open if there wasn’t a demand for them to offer a supply.
Not everyone has family to spend the holidays with. Not everyone celebrates the same holidays. Not everyone has a job that can afford to take days off. And some people need that extra income from working on a Holiday in order to make ends meet.
The holidays are a good time to step into someone else’s shoes and show empathy and kindness, which is the gift we can all give each other. I am spending a lot of time thinking about what we owe each other lately, and I think that making each other’s lives be less stressful is a good start.
Much love to friends old and new, and Happy whatever you celebrate.