The True Meaning of the Holidays is Right Here in our Hearts


A family enjoying the holiday party at our Family Resource Center, East San Gabriel Valley.

By Desiree Rodrigues

It is that time of year again, the holiday season, when you are rushing about town trying to find that one last gift, sending off greeting cards and planning gatherings. Whether you are shopping or getting ready for parties, I am sure that the following question has crossed your mind: What do the holidays mean to me?

For me, the answer is family.

Let’s take a moment and think of the very first Christmas story. A father, Joseph, is taking care of his pregnant wife, Mary. He traveled in search of a safe place for them, asking for help along the way. He did what was necessary to provide for them. That very special story is in fact replayed day in and day out all across the world. Parents are creating safe shelters, providing the necessities, and nurturing their growing children physically and mentally.

This past week our Family Resource Center, East San Gabriel Valley office had its very first holiday celebration. Several clients and their families were invited to have dinner, partake in the gift receiving, and visit with Santa.  When planning the event, the main goal was to have the families come together, have a special dinner, and have fun. Mission accomplished!

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The author, left, with Santa.

Our families enjoyed the arts and crafts activities and taking a family portrait.  These are little things that not all of our families are accustomed to or have the means to do on their own, so the experience was rewarding.   I had the pleasure of taking the family portraits, and the look on children’s faces was priceless. I saw the joy in the eyes of the parents and grandparents as they posed with their little ones. I was reminded that night of the meaning of the holiday.

Many of the Hillsides’ programs have thrown similar festivities, all with the same goal and coinciding with our mission to strengthen families. To all who celebrated Hanukkah, and those who will celebrate Christmas and Kwanzaa, may you enjoy the time spent with your family and family of friends.

Boas Festas!  Happy Holidays!

Desiree Rodrigues, who has worked at Hillsides for eight years, is the program coordinator for the CalWORKs program at Hillsides. She is currently working on her degree in literature at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, and is looking forward to beginning California State University, Long Beach next fall. 

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