My sister in law specializes in helping people with eating disorders. As we sat together over the holidays, I asked her how her patients were handling this time of year. She shared with me some challenges that are facing her patients such as: relationships with family are strained due to all the stress that is caused by the constant change in schedule, food is such an overwhelming center of many of the celebrations which makes this holiday season difficult and finally many support services are closed at the time when people need them the most.
It was a reminder to me that not everyone has a wonderful holiday experience. We went on to talk further about many of the challenges that are heightened at this time of year for many other people, which includes many families of the students we teach.
Some families have lost their jobs and are trying to make ends meet and feeling the pressure to buy gifts to put under a tree.
Some families have lost loved ones this year and their absence is heightened during family traditions.
Some families are far away from their loved ones this year and are missing them a lot.
Some families are struggling to get along and being in the same room for days on end is not helping.
Some families have mental health concerns that are heightened by all the visitors and the change in routine.
Some families have spent Christmas in a hospital this year with sick or dying family members.
Some families are just struggling to make it through the day.
The conversation that my sister in law and I had was not a pessimistic one at all. Just a reminder to me that some of our students are facing challenges over these two weeks off from school. I will be sure to remember that the holidays are not perfect for many people and that when the students come back to school they may need some support. I will be on the lookout for those students who need an extra smile or a divergence from the conversation about presents and festivities.