For many members of Healing Dialogue and Action, a central part of their healing comes as a result of personal connections and through activities that that support other peoples’ healing journey. Holidays for both survivor and offender family members can be difficult, because we are even more aware of the absence of our loved ones. This gathering created a safe space for celebration by acknowledging and honoring our missing loved ones. Having people from both victim and offender experiences come together to celebrate and contribute to one another’s healing was a joyful and simple yet profound experience for people.

We had an overwhelmingly positive response to our Holiday Party invitation – forty-six people, adults and children, attended this event. Many participants have asked us for activities that include their children, and this event was designed to create an opportunity for families to gather together. We began the day with a circle where we introduced those present and lighted candles honoring the loved ones lost to violence and incarcerated. The day also included a session of self-care trauma-healing movements taught by a volunteer from Capacitar International, games and crafts for children, Gingerbread house decorating, and a meal of tamales and rice and beans and fruit and a celebratory cake. Each adult participant was given a gift bag with soap, candles and herbal teas, and children were given games and toys.