It’s that time of year again! Things are winding down and we are all just trying to make it to the holiday break. I have to say, I’m just thankful to work in a field that allows for time off around the holidays. (Sorry to those who work in the retail or medical world.)
So yes, as you may have noticed, I’ve been saying “holiday”. Let’s face it, I’ve been conditioned to feel that anything else is an inappropriate, offensive word. Wait, it’s my blog, so I’m just going to say it… Christmas! Ah! I did it!
As a therapist, I work with many different families. Who knows what all of their holiday celebration preferences entail? Over the years I’ve learned to stay neutral on most subjects: politics, religion, holidays… etc. (And yes, parents do talk to me about these things.) I am the Switzerland of the therapeutic process. Honestly, most things don’t offend me; I’m just horribly concerned that I’ll offend someone else, they’ll leave the clinic, bad mouth me to the entire therapy community for my lack of sensitivity, and I’ll never work again. (I can be a bit over-dramatic in my anxiety).
Anyways, at this time of year, families can be super sweet and bring in cards and goodies for their therapists. (I often wonder if they are ever afraid of offending me?) I have kids who celebrate Hanukkah, kids who celebrate Christmas, and others who celebrate nothing at all. I dance around the subject with some sweet moves, because I’m terrified I’ll ruin whatever deal they’ve got going at their house. Some kids offer up on the subject, which will sucker me into talking about it.
Child: “I’m so excited for Christmas!”
Me: “So did you go visit Santa yet?”
Child: “No, why would I do that? You are supposed to write him a letter and leave it with the cookies. Then he turns the letter into presents, duh.”
Me: “Oh yes, of course. I was just making sure you knew.”
Another Child: “What’s your elf’s name?”
Me Thinking Fast: “Phil.”
Child: “What was he doing this morning?”
Me Inserting Something I Saw On Pinterest: “Uh, he was taking a bubble bath in some marshmallows.” Phew, close one.
Although, one year I made a big whoopsie. I figured I was safe with the whole Christmas thing, because the child was already talking about it. He asked me what I had on my Christmas tree and this went down:
Me: “Oh, I like Santa Claus ornaments.”
Child Looking Puzzled/Judging Me: “We don’t have Santa ornaments at our house.”
Child: “Because we don’t like Satan.”
Whoa. Yes, he said Satan. That conversation got out of hand quickly. I assumed his opinion was somehow related to the commercialization of Christmas, or something way too grown up like that. However, I decided the best course of action was to completely change the subject and fearfully assume that he was going to tell his mother that I liked Satan. (I don’t, just to be clear… I do like Santa though.) Crap.
So, what have we learned here? I’ll say this to parents: feel free to give your therapist a heads up regarding your holiday traditions if you think your child is going to talk about it while they are with us. We’re probably more afraid of offending you than you should be of offending us. You know, like bees, or wild animals. That way I won’t accidentally ruin everything. But anyway, regardless of what you celebrate, I wish you a very happy holiday season!