Navigating the Holiday Season When You Don’t Celebrate Traditional Holidays

The Holiday Season Without Celebrating Traditional Holidays
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Navigating the Holiday Season When You Don’t Celebrate Traditional Holidays

The winter season is full of holidays. Sometimes, it feels like everywhere you look, there’s a different holiday being celebrated: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, just to name a few. 

But what do you do if your family celebrates a holiday that’s not prominently featured in Hallmark stores? Or if you don’t celebrate a holiday during this season at all? 

We sat down with Dr. Sourav Sengupta, leading medical expert in pediatric behavioral mental health and chief clinical officer at Hopscotch, to talk about how families can navigate the holiday season when they don’t celebrate the traditional, commonly-celebrated holidays. 

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The holiday season can be challenging for families who don’t celebrate holidays that are prominently celebrated throughout the winter.  Young children are in a developmental stage where they’re trying to get a sense of what their family is about and how their family connects with the world around them. 

“Little kids are really in awe of all the pageantry of Christmas, in this country, it’s a big deal,” Sengupta says. “And to see it all around but not particularly represented within the family structure, that can be pretty challenging.” 

As children reach adolescence, Sengupta says, they tend to want to separate a little from their family and connect with their peers more, and “that’s really challenging to do if your family is not particularly celebrating a majority-culture holiday.” 

These challenges can extend to adults in the family structure as well. Parents can feel a tension between the important cultural values and traditions that they want to pass down to their children and the messages that their children are getting from the dominant culture. 

“These are challenging moments for families that don’t celebrate those ‘traditional’ holidays,” Sengupta says.

For these families, parents can navigate the season by figuring out how much you want your children to be connected to these traditional holidays. With a holiday like Christmas, if parents want to “have your kids experience the pageantry and the fun of it, I think that’s fine,” Sengupta says.  

In cases like this, it can be helpful to look for lines of connection between what values the holiday celebrates and what values they hold as a family. 

For example, Christmas is seen as a time for families to get together; time with family is a value shared across many different cultures, even those that don’t celebrate Christmas. 

Sengupta says this is something that requires “a little bit of deconstructing,” where parents ask “what is this holiday about? How can I get some of that into our family life?”

But this approach may not be the best choice for all families and all holidays. 

“There’s other times when you look into the values underlying something and it’s just not necessarily going to be the exact fit,” Sengupta says. “Maybe it’s even clashing with something that’s important for your cultural background that needs to be happening right now.” 

As an example, Sengupta says if a culture is going through a time of contrition and making amends for past challenges, a dominant culture holiday focusing on happiness and celebration may not be a good fit at the time. 

“I think in that context, it’s okay just to say we’re not going to participate right now,” Sengupta says. “We’re going to find a way to be together with our family and just sort of say, ‘we’re going to lean into our own cultural experience right now.’”

Families who celebrate more traditional holidays can support their friends and loved ones who celebrate other cultural holidays or don’t celebrate anything during the holiday season. 

Sengupta says the big thing in cases like this is “imbuing a spirit of positive curiosity” and being curious about where our friends and loved ones are coming from. If a loved one is celebrating a cultural experience different from the holidays in the dominant culture, this can look like asking about what the cultural experience entails, how it’s celebrated and why it’s important. 

“Demonstrating that curiosity in the family context goes a long way,” Sengupta says. 

When expressing this curiosity about other cultural experiences, resist the temptation to tie them back to dominant cultural holidays. 

“It’s not always about finding the analog in majority culture,” Sengupta says. “It’s just about validating and exploring their experience, and I think that goes a long way towards folks that are not necessarily feeling connected with the majority culture experience.” 

Finding space to explore and celebrate other cultural celebrations alongside the holidays of the dominant culture can be a fun bonding experience for families. 

“There’s a nice balance between transmitting our love and connection with a particular holiday that’s meaningful for our culture and really talking about and getting excited, exploring and eating the food of different cultural celebrations,” Sengupta says. “Not just attending the majority culture ones, but other non-traditional minority cultural ones as well.” 

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font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Varying pitch and tone for emphasis and effect.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Articulation:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Ensuring clarity and precision in speech.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Passion:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Encouraging expressive, enthusiastic delivery.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Use of Emphasis and Pauses:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Enhancing speech dynamics for impact.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Confidence:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Building self-assurance in public speaking.</span></p> <p><strong id="docs-internal-guid-059348ae-7fff-6219-67e5-728bc2a0e47d" style="font-weight: normal;"> </strong></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: underline; -webkit-text-decoration-skip: none; text-decoration-skip-ink: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">For Body Language, we emphasize:</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Eye Contact:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Engaging with the audience visually.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Hand Gestures:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Using gestures to reinforce messages.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Body Movements:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Incorporating movement for emphasis.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Body Postures:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Maintaining a confident, approachable stance.</span></p> <p><strong style="font-weight: normal;"> </strong></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: underline; -webkit-text-decoration-skip: none; text-decoration-skip-ink: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">We train students in:</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Powerful Openings:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Captivating the audience from the start.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Clear Statement of Claims:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Presenting arguments concisely.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Backing Claims with Reasoning and Supporting Materials:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Strengthening arguments with evidence.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Extemporaneous Speaking:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Developing the ability to speak spontaneously and coherently.</span></p> <p><strong style="font-weight: normal;"> </strong></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: underline; -webkit-text-decoration-skip: none; text-decoration-skip-ink: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">In Debate, our focus includes:</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Cross-Examination:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Skillfully questioning and clarifying points.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Refutation:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Effectively countering arguments.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Powerful Closings:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Concluding debates with impact.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Ethos, Pathos, Logos:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Utilizing these persuasive techniques.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Persuasion:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Convincing the audience through logical argumentation.</span></p> <p><strong style="font-weight: normal;"> </strong></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: underline; -webkit-text-decoration-skip: none; text-decoration-skip-ink: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Soft Skills - The 7 Cs:</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Collaboration:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Fostering teamwork and cooperative problem-solving.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Conflict Resolution:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Equipping students to navigate and resolve disputes effectively.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Community Building:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Encouraging active participation and contribution to community development.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Character:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Cultivating integrity, responsibility, and ethical behavior.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Comradery:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Building friendships and peer support networks.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Critical Thinking:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Developing analytical skills for thoughtful decision-making.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Creativity:</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Encouraging innovative thinking and unique expression.</span></p> <p><strong style="font-weight: normal;"> </strong></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Our 'summer camp first' philosophy means we blend rigorous learning with fun activities that foster teamwork, build friendships, and promote diverse perspectives. 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