This year’s holiday season has started off with the usual bang of exhaustive decorating and accidental overeating. Yet throughout all the tasks and checklists, there has been an underlying feeling of sadness and grief as our family struggles to celebrate our favorite season for the first time without the person who loved it the most- our father. Dad/Grandpa/Pappy (depending on who was addressing him) passed away late Spring of this year and just when my siblings and I thought we might see the end of the financial and logistical fallout of his passing, the holidays came with the emotional impact of reminding us of just what we had lost. Pappy used to dress up as Santa regularly, so it’s hard to get through December without seeing his face under every furry red hat and thinking about what the season meant to him. My sister picked up the Christmas torch and with dogged determination is ensuring that our traditions stay alive including a Christmas eve open house and as many festive decorations as possible. The rest of us are doing our best to keep going- as tempting as it is to feel a bit Bah-Humbug, its not what Dad would have wanted.

Watching my family cope in these difficult times has brought to mind some of the foundational aspects of what makes a family strong- namely hope and resilience. Families aren’t strong because sad or stressful things never happen to them. They can grow stronger when times are difficult if they band together, learn from the experience, and press on. Resilience isn’t being unaffected by stress, sadness, depression, anxiety, and the darker side of human emotions. Rather, it comes from acknowledging and honoring those feelings as part of the process and then when you are ready, taking a step forward. There is no rushing through grief and it’s okay to not be okay. But the heart of resilience is to keep living and moving for your own sake. For some people, this means decorating the house when they’d rather cry, knowing that once it’s done, the lights on the tree will warm their heart. For others, it may look like taking their children to see Santa, even if it reminds them of a lost loved one, for the look of wonder on their faces. Still, for others, resilience may be as simple as getting up in the morning, feeding themselves, and letting a little glimmer of hope enter their heart.

Hope and resilience are strongly intertwined. I recently heard someone state that “hope is the bedrock of resilience”, and scientific studies support the idea that the ability to look past the present moment into a brighter future improves a person’s ability to cope with stress and grief. Hope is also a common theme this time of year- seen on holiday cards, signs, and even fireplaces with some frequency. Perhaps then, it’s appropriate to challenge ourselves to foster hope in our lives and the lives of the people around us this holiday season. Whether it’s yourself, your sibling, neighbor, or friend- find someone who needs some intentional hope-giving. If you are building hope within yourself, you could daydream about your next night out with friends or plan your ideal road trip for next summer. If you are giving hope to someone else, its usually as simple as time and conversation (ideally over a warm beverage). Tell them “You’ll get through this. You are not alone. I’m here.” Make sure you back up your words with action and let their resilience do the rest. All things considered, this holiday season, even if your troubles aren’t out of sight, a little hope can still let your heart be light.



ICTF’s Grant Manager, Taryn Yates, had a regular parenting column in her hometown newspaper, The Idaho Fall’s Post Register from 2018-2019. We have assembled them all here on our website, and she will continue her parenting insights as a website blog.

Yates, Master in Social Work, is a grants manager and planner for the Idaho Children’s Trust Fund/Prevent Child Abuse Idaho.