Written by Executive Director Claire Louge

It’s a popular icebreaker question this time of year: What’s your favorite part of the holiday season? People’s answers tend to include things like food, family traditions, or cooler-weather-related activities.

I like those things (for the most part), but my favorite part of the holidays is less about a specific experience and more about a particular vibe: I like this time of year because of the lowered expectations for productivity.

I acknowledge this may not be everyone’s experience, and that some people don’t like the holiday season for a number of understandable reasons. For many, the holiday season actually leads to an increase in expectations for productivity in terms of family or work. What I observe, however, is that around this time of year, there’s a shared understanding that people have lives and need to take breaks, and because of that, the breakneck speed of work tends to slow down. People give each other more grace.

I find a lot of comfort and joy in that. It’s a mutual permission to free ourselves from the tyranny of productivity.

My dear friend Emma, who works as an elementary school teacher in Detroit and lives her life with an exemplary reflectiveness, shared a quote with me years ago that continues to resonate:

“Be patient with yourself. Nothing in nature blooms all year.” 

The internet doesn’t seem to know who said this first, but I think it could be attributed to our exhausted collective consciousness. How often, when you’re asked “how are things with you?” do you answer “busy”?

Try as we might to overcome the limitations of our nature, human beings are still part of the natural world. We too need a break once in a while. We too aren’t supposed to be constantly blooming.

I’ve written on the need for self-care before, and the endurance required to be a professional working to meet the needs of children and families. Like every important idea, the subject of self-care merits revisiting, so in case you would benefit from a reminder:

The world can be ridiculous, grating, and devastating. You need time to recover from being in the arenas you launch yourself into every day, and the pain you’re exposed to.

The vision we’re working to achieve — an Arizona free of child abuse, where families have what they need to raise their children — is a purpose bigger than any of our individual lives. And it will take a while.

We need you in this long-term. The only way we can keep you is if you give yourself grace and accept it from others, if you take the time to enjoy the things you have, and reflect on what is meaningful to you. When you can do that, you are better for yourself and for your work and for the world. 

You are part of nature, too. You can keep on going only if you stop blooming once in a while. This holiday season, I hope you get some time to expect a bit less from yourself.