It is wintertime, the evergreens are thriving, snow is falling, and the fresh air is growing crisper and cool each day. Here at Ironwood, we have had a busy schedule as we have prepared for and celebrated Chanukah (Hanukkah) and now Christmas, which is just a couple days away. In this weekly update, I will be focusing on the holidays at Ironwood.
During the holidays, here at Ironwood, both the students and the staff participate in many Ironwood holiday traditions, some of which may be familiar to families. The holiday traditions here at Ironwood include Chanukah and Christmas. Chanukah (Hanukkah) traditions at Ironwood include cooking a special meal (brisket is a favorite) and baking Challah bread, to go with it. We also light the candles on the Menorah each day of Chanukah. For Christmas, Ironwood traditions include making wreaths out of tips trimmed and collected from evergreens by students, decorating the Farmhouse, decorating the bunk houses at Frye, decorating a Christmas tree, writing Christmas wish lists, making Christmas stockings, baking Christmas cookies, and (for Farmhouse students) wearing “ugly sweaters.”
Many of the holiday traditions that we have here at Ironwood have come from the staff who work here. Ironwood staff bring their own traditions here to help ease students’ anxieties about not being home for the holidays. Staff also share their own holiday traditions. This is helpful because when students leave Ironwood, and grow to become independent adults, there may be times when they are unable to be with their families for the holidays. Introducing new traditions for students creates an opportunity for them to bring home holiday ideas to their families when they leave Ironwood. For me, Chanukah and Christmas this year are my second of both at Ironwood. With these experiences, I have found the traditions helpful in easing my own anxieties around the holidays. I have learned to be more able to stay in the moment as I embrace and participate in these activities. By developing ways for students to ease their own anxieties around the holidays, students may apply these traditions outside of Ironwood. Sharing these traditions may also be a good way for students to connect with others.
Overall, the week here at Ironwood has been exciting and busy, with lots of holiday cheer and a great attitude coming from all students and staff. The tremendous effort and care that the staff and students put in to the holidays at Ironwood is greatly appreciated and has helped us all to overcome the difficulties of such a busy week. Merry Christmas Everyone!!!