How is Thanksgiving Celebrated in Prison?
If you have a loved one who is spending Thanksgiving in jail or prison, you may be wondering how to approach the Holidays. Should you send cards and photos, or does that make the fact that they’re far away more painful?
We spoke to Pelipost’s Co-Founder and COO, Becky, about how the power of photos helped her through the holidays while she was incarcerated.
What is Thanksgiving like on the inside?
You know, surprisingly, there is a lot of warmth inside. There is a lot of camaraderie, and you truly become family with the people in your cell or the people that you see every day. You walk the track with them, they serve the role as your family there. And so in the same instance, Thanksgiving, it wasn’t a thing that you like, ignore. We all knew it was Thanksgiving- “What are we going to do for Thanksgiving?” “Let’s share stories,” “let’s talk,” “let’s watch something special on TV.” You know, you find a way to make it celebratory.
Does sending photos and mail really make an impact?
As soon as the holidays came about – Thanksgiving Day was a big one – friends sending me, “Happy Thanksgiving, thinking of you” cards- all those are bonuses in there to receive. The value of a card changes. And what I mean is, out here where you can go and see hundreds of thousands of cards at Hallmark Store or anything like that, inside, when you receive a card, it means so much more. And I loved it. And I loved receiving cards. And you share them with everyone. They bring you so much joy. So to receive a card with photos inside is jackpot. When I was feeling like my tank was running on empty, with feelings, with emotions, with trying to get through another week, and I would get the envelope and pictures and reminders of home, it would refuel my gas tank and make it possible for me just to get through another week or another month or whatever it was. But it means a lot.
How can families be supportive?
A lot of my family used to think that receiving photos of the holidays was hurtful to me. So they would say, you know, “is it okay if I send you?” or, you know, “we don’t want to make you feel worse.” And they were concerned about that, and I’m sure that there are differing opinions about that. For me, it actually helped to see the families still going on, still celebrating, still living life. And although I was on the inside, it made me personally feel good that people were okay. I got to see my dad. I got to see my mom. I got to see- and don’t get me wrong, it is hard because I’m not there. But the- the happiness that you see. “Oh, my dad looks good.” “Oh, so-and-so’s growing up.” That supersedes what I feel by not being there. I feel good because I was able to at least catch up with that day and be part of the day. And it brought me joy.
Watch our full interview with Becky on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVGhYoqwANI
To read more about the experiences Becky has been through, check out Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration on the Pelipost blog. To download the Pelipost app go to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.