The month of December is filled with various festivals, religious events, national days and a multitude of celebrations that bring people together for food, fun, and frollicking. This may include Festivus, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Independence Days for Kenya, Qatar, Bahrain, Libya, Mongolia, Finland, Tanzania, Portugal, and many more.
Though these are just a few significant dates people may celebrate or take time off to take care of themselves, friends or family, there are many different traditions associated with each holiday or significant day. Learning about the significance, stories and histories of various holidays can help broaden our perspective beyond the holidays we celebrate year after year.
According to AbacusData, a survey was done in 2019 asking Canadians if they celebrate Christmas and if they celebrate Christmas as a secular or religious holiday. 87% of respondents said they celebrate Christmas (51% secular holiday and 35% religious holiday), while 13% responded “no”. While this may or may not be representative of our OSRP population, it supports our awareness of those who may not celebrate Christmas or any of the many holidays during the month of December.
As active, retired and student Psychotherapists, we know that there are many for whom this time of year is uncomfortable, lonely, isolating or riddled with thoughts of traumatic experiences, grief and loss. We are well aware of the tumultuous emotional rollercoaster of this season for many. As we continue through this month of December, we may wish to use inclusive language in how we greet each other and not make assumptions about how people are getting through this time. In addition, we might consider providing our clients and loved ones with a crisis line number/website and other culturally-sensitive community resources to help get through this time safely.
We might practise asking open-ended questions of each other first, so we are not making assumptions. For example, “What are you doing over these next few weeks?” This question does not assume someone will be on holidays because they may choose to or have to work; it doesn’t assume they will be with family members; and it doesn’t assume they celebrate a specific holiday.
Another open-ended question might be, “How do you spend your time in these winter months?” This example invites discussion without imposing a specific belief, expectation, mood or pattern of behaviour. Once we’ve learned more about the person we’re talking to, we can then decide how to wish them well.
May all OSRP Members find peace that surpasses all understanding as you engage with these last weeks of 2022 and prepare for victorious showers of Health, Wealth, and Wisdom in 2023!!!