Tips for celebrating the holidays when your loved one is incarcerated

The holiday season is here. While this can be a special time of year for many, it can also be a trying time for those who are missing family members.

Many have loved ones who have passed away and others are struggling because one of their loved ones is in prison. And, with the pandemic, it’s making it even harder for family members to gather together.

No matter the reason your loved one can’t be with you, it can feel like there’s a hole in your heart. So, how do you make the most out of it? In this blog, I’m going to specifically address those who are missing loved ones in prison and some steps you can take to make the holidays brighter.

Make time to visit

Your loved one may not be able to be in your home for the holidays, but there is an option to visit them. Just make sure that you know the prison rules regarding the visit. You may also want to find out what type of safety guidelines are recommended because of the pandemic.

Send a letter and a gift

Just because your loved one can’t celebrate in person with you, doesn’t mean they should be left out of the gift exchange. Celebrating the holidays will be especially hard so make sure to remember them. Send your loved one a letter letting them know you’re thinking about them and missing them.

Many prisons also allow you to send books from specific, approved retailers (they are sent directly from the retailer to the prison mailing address). This could be anything from a novel to a devotional to an activity book. You may also be able to purchase a newspaper or magazine subscription for them. Just make sure you find out the prison’s specific rules regarding this.

Submit money to their account

Money is always an appreciated gift. They’ll be able to use it to purchase items from the prison commissary. Maybe they’ll treat themselves to some special snacks for the occasion or find other desired items.

Ask them to call on the holiday

This is another thing that your money can go towards. Money in your loved one’s account can allow them to make more phone calls. Encourage your loved one to call on the holiday so you can wish each other well and get to catch up a little on the special day.

If you are gathered with other loved ones, consider putting it on speakerphone for everyone to be able to virtually gather or pass around the phone for everyone to get a few quick words in. Just remember, they’re only allowed to talk for a limited amount of time per call.

Purchase gifts for the kids

If you’re caring for your loved one’s children while they’re in prison, consider purchasing presents for the kids from their parent. Involve the parent in making the decision on what items they’d like their kids to have. Maybe talk about the items on the child’s wishlist with the parent. This doesn’t have to get expensive, even a small gift from the parent can be comforting to the child who is missing their mom or dad.

I know it’s not easy to celebrate the holidays without your loved one there with you. Hopefully, these tips will help you make the most out of it and allow you to enjoy the holiday season a little more.

[Monalisa Johnson is a licensed and ordained minister of the gospel and a certified life coach as well as a mother and entrepreneur. In no way is anything that she writes, speaks or shares considered medical advice or clinical therapy. Consider all that you receive to be life coaching and guidance.]

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