No matter who we are or where we are from, we all typically share traditions that make the holiday season a special time of the year.
However, the holidays are not always an easy time for everyone and a lot of at-risk and homeless youth have a harder time during this period because of factors such as memories, living situations and loneliness. We wanted to shed light on this, so we decided to ask our youth what their holiday celebrations will look like this year. And while there may be challenges, they also share popular traditions as they build and develop healthier relationships with those they love.
For example, one of our youth will be spending Christmas with her boyfriend and his family. In previous years, his extended family would drop by throughout the days leading up to
Christmas (and after) but this year, it will likely be a small celebration with just the immediate family.
Like most of us, there will be a lot of food involved - a turkey, stuffing, cranberries, sweet potatoes, bread (hungry yet?!). They exchange presents, watch movies - a Christmas that we can all probably relate to.
For youth in the shelter, things look a little less cozy although these amazing organizations still do their best to make it as festive as possible.
There is a tree which residents decorate and a nice dinner (more turkey!) and youth receive backpacks with thoughtful items such as pyjamas, socks, headphones, toothbrushes and gift cards.
It is a similar situation in group homes where workers are often allotted a certain amount of money to get gifts for youth they work with so there is still something special to mark the occasion.
The holidays aren't always joyous, however, and for many vulnerable youth, it can sometimes be the source of more stress and anxiety.
Although youth may return to their family homes to celebrate the season, these reunions often create tension, arguments and disagreements that stretch throughout the day.
For some youth, returning home for a holiday brunch can end up lasting through holiday dinner because of disputes that they feel they need to endure in order to keep peace.
So while the holiday season is a special time of year, it is not always a positive experience for everyone. However, hope is not lost and we have seen our youth progress in the way they handle certain negative relationships and the development of their own understanding in themselves.
We also understand that the holidays can be stressful for all (especially this year!) as we struggle to get gifts sent and find a new *2020* way to make this season meaningful. We hope you are all taking care of yourselves, staying safe and are able to create some memories that still bring you joy.
From our family to yours, we want to wish you all a very happy holiday season!