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Embracing a “Different” December

Written by Dr. Sharon B. Kirlik, PhD, LCSW, Behavioral Wellness Therapist

 

And then there was December! December is the end of the year for those who follow the Gregorian calendar; the punctuation at the end of a sentence but, regardless of which calendar you follow it is doubtful that anyone would disagree: 2020 was a year of adjustment.  Did you know that there are many different, very special holidays that are celebrated by various groups of people who live across the United States? These celebrations may look very different or may be founded on very different principles than yours, but each holiday is special to the people who celebrate them; none are “better or worse; they are just different.”

In therapy, we often say that “different does not necessarily mean better or worse, it just means different”. Although at first, “different” may feel uncomfortable and unnatural, “different” can also be an opportunity to learn and create positive change. This can also be true of the adjustments that will need to be made as we begin looking toward holiday celebrations in the year 2020 so why not use this year as the opportunity to create new traditions and positive, more inclusive changes?

The concept of greeting someone during December with “Happy Holidays” has been increasingly politicized as a divisive means of pitting one group against another as “more than”, but what happens if we use December 2020 as an opportunity to reframe the meaning behind the greeting as a way of acknowledging and embracing ALL of the incredible and wonderful diverse populations that make up the fabric of our country?  Perhaps December and the end of 2020 can be the exact opportunity for our nation to reimagine “the fabric of our life” as one big, gorgeous quilt made from different sizes, shapes, colors, and designs of people who are joined together in recognition of their own kind of “different”.  Perhaps this December is the very opportunity to begin equating the phrase “Equality for ALL” to include the ALL who are “different.”

Date

Holiday

Group

November or December

Hanukkah

Jewish

First Week of December

Chalica

Unitarian Universalist

December 8

Bodhi Day

Buddhist

December 21-25

Poncha Ganapati

Hindu

December 21

Soyal

Zuni and Hopi Tribes

December 23

HumanLight

Humanist

December 24 & 25

Christmas

Christian

December 26

Boxing Day

Secular

December 26-January 1

Kwanzaa

Pan-African

December 31-January 1

New Year

Secular

December 31

Freedom’s Eve

Gullah-Geechee

 

Dr. Sharon Kirlik, PhD, LCSW graduated with her Masters in Social Work (MSW) from the University of Georgia. Later, with the adoption of her African American son and then, her Haitian American daughter, she realized an even deeper passion for working with children and families who were societally marginalized and oppressed. Her interests have compelled her to travel throughout the countries of Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and India allowing her to become immersed in the respective cultures. While completing her PhD with distinction, Dr. Kirlik was publicly recognized in Chicago for her programs created to improve the quality of life for foster care children. Her programs later took her to several countries throughout the continent of Africa, and have won acclaim and recognition among many South African organizations and other government leaders.
Categories: Education
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