What It's Like Spending Christmas In Prison
The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for those of us who have a loved one who is incarcerated. We miss our loved ones and might wonder what the holidays will be like for them, or if it's even possible to have a merry Christmas while in jail or prison.
At Pelipost, we understand the significance of keeping families connected, especially during the holiday season. Our Co-Founder and COO, Becky, shared her valuable perspective on what it's like spending Christmas in prison and how families can provide support by sharing their holiday celebrations with their loved ones on the inside: "It's simply amazing what just using your imagination you can do to get into the Christmas spirit and to feel like you're bringing it in to yourself so that you can celebrate it because it's still a celebration. You still want to celebrate the holidays."
As part of our commitment to the Pelipost Fam, we recently conducted a survey to gather insights on how our customers celebrate the holidays with their incarcerated loved ones. We're excited to share the responses from the heart of our community, offering inspiration and support, especially for those experiencing their first holiday season without their loved ones.
The Power of Letters and Cards
"The holidays we have had since incarceration, I just make sure to send a funny card to make him smile, along with pics of the people and things most important to him."
"I always send him multiple cards and pictures and I buy him the maximum amount of gift baskets. If it falls on a weekend I will also visit or video visit, depending on what the facility is allowing."
Sending a letter or a card is like sending a piece of home to your incarcerated loved one. Holding a card or letter in their hands is a powerful reminder that they are not forgotten. According to one respondent, our incarcerated loved ones “need to be included in the lives of the people that care about them so they can know that they are important and loved.”
The photos, letters, and cards that you send your loved ones at the holidays become part of their unique holiday traditions on the inside. With a little creativity and reminders from friends and family that they are thought about and loved, the holidays can still be a special and celebratory time for your incarcerated loved one, even if they're spending Christmas in prison.
Lifting Spirits through Visitation and Photos
"We have just started having video visits this year on holidays."
"This will be mine and my daughter first year without my boyfriend for the holidays. So, I hope to be able to visit in person and on video visits so make it not as hard. Either way it will still be very hard though."
For many in our Pelipost Fam, visiting their loved one in prison during the holidays holds immense significance. Visits are crucial "So that they know that they are not forgotten and that they are loved, missed, and are still part of the circle of love known as family" shared one respondent. Another emphasized the transformative power of in-person connection, stating, "Visiting and sending holiday cards showing how much I love him. To make him feel like he’s not alone and that I’m always going to be there to support him."
In this digital age, virtual visits are becoming more common. Some correctional facilities offer virtual visitation so you can enjoy holiday traditions virtually, even if you can't be in the same physical space. It's a way to bridge the gap during the holiday season. "We hope to video chat sometime during the holidays. It lets him know that is still part of the family and we are moving on from the events that led to his imprisonment” shared one Pelipost user.
While we recognize that visitation may not always be possible, we understand its impact on both the incarcerated individual and their loved ones. The joy of seeing a familiar face and sharing moments can make the holiday season more meaningful. If circumstances allow, consider exploring visitation options to bring some extra warmth and connection to your celebrations. And if you’re not visiting, you can still bring the holidays in to your loved one through the power of photos.
Connecting Through Phone Calls
"This will be my first holiday tradition spent with my new loved one. We are getting to know each other’s cultures and how they spend with each other during the holidays."
"My fiancé and me take long phone calls and express our love for each other. I’m in the process of gathering my photos to send to him. I draw him pictures relating to every holiday."
Connecting through phone calls is key to brightening up the holidays for many in our Pelipost Fam. On the phone, you can try "talking about the things we like/liked doing most at or around Christmas. What they’d like to do the first Christmas they are out" shared one respondent. Another emphasized the importance of updates, saying that during the holidays she loves to "Wait for him to call then tell him about all the lights." This year, try to make time to schedule a special holiday call to chat, share updates, and convey your love. It's a great way to hear their voice during this special time of year.
We're excited to see the impact of free prison calls in California, a positive step towards enhancing communication between families and their incarcerated loved ones. This development is a testament to the understanding of the importance of maintaining connections, especially during the holiday season. We hope other states follow suit, allowing more families to experience the joy of free calls and fostering stronger bonds.
Making Spirits Bright During Christmas in Prison
As we navigate this holiday season, let these insights from the Pelipost Fam inspire and guide your celebrations. Whether it's your first holiday without your loved one or you’ve experienced this before, know that you're not alone. Pelipost is here to support and connect families, making the holidays special for all, even our incarcerated loved ones spending Christmas in prison. To close, we’d like to share these inspiring words from one of our survey respondents and Pelipost Fam members, Monica:
“The holidays seem to be an even harder time for people behind bars. They are away from their loved ones and not able to give or receive gifts or hugs. They aren't able to attend holiday gatherings or take part in family traditions they've grown accustomed to. Being away from their loved ones is hard enough but even more so during holidays.
I want to show them they are still very much loved and not forgotten even though they aren't able to be with us right now. It's crucial to keep their spirits up so they don't give up. If not, they may withdraw and stop doing the necessary things to be free again, and may even get into more trouble that would lengthen their time behind bars- away from loved ones and unable to live their life to the fullest. Knowing they still have support of loved ones increases the chances of successfully re-entering the world outside of prison.” – Monica S.