What’s your favourite holiday ritual?
There’s something important about the repeated pattern of familiar—and familial—activities. This is especially true when theses rhythms are rooted in community, when they’re practiced with that chosen (or not-so-chosen) group of people that make up your family. Maybe you hang Christmas decorations together. Maybe you go over to your mother’s house and stay up late frying latkes. Maybe you travel home to see the people and places where you have roots. But for our friends on Victoria’s street, family support isn’t always an option, and neither are these particular traditions.
Around this time of year, the Dandelion Society gets to host one of our favourite holiday traditions. It happened this week. And two days later, we’re still revelling in the deep sense of community that this tradition provides.
On Tuesday, we filled a bus with our street family and drove to Butchart Gardens to celebrate the season with each other. What a night! We can be a messy family. But it’s in the chaos of our diversity and the cracks of our brokenness that The Dandelion Society’s sense of community comes to life. That’s why traditions like these are so important. We put our services on the back burner for an evening and come together as a community, as family. People bond over shared memories. And that’s exactly what we’re building: memories that build hope, relationships that reinforce it, and a community to belong in.
Don’t get me wrong. A holiday ritual like our Butchart trip doesn’t erase the barriers that someone in poverty deals with. It doesn’t put injustice on hold. If you’re living every day in struggle, and if you’ve spent years building up self-defensive resilience in response to society’s rejection, the holidays can heighten these sorrows. Our Butchart trip isn’t about forgetting this. It’s about responding to it.
We work hard to break individual cycles of suffering every day. We spend ourselves while providing practical, compassionate services. Sometimes it’s crucial to have an evening that responds with simple things like celebration, community, and participation in something joyful. On Tuesday, the only thing that mattered was to just be with each other: singing, huddling in Butchart’s cafe, being together as a family. Because sometimes, amidst the hardship of the holidays, that’s where we find our hope for tomorrow.