After being scattered across the city, we recently moved to a brand new space where all our operations are under one roof. We love it. For the very first time, we are literally “home for the holidays.” But to be honest, we don’t feel completely at home there yet. Everything is still so new.
Maybe this is appropriate since we work with refugees who have left behind everything that’s familiar. They experience profound disruption and isolation as they struggle to adjust to a new culture with strange traditions like pine trees in the living room and a fat man in a red suit. Everyone longs for a place that’s uniquely theirs, where they know they belong. And this is especially true this time of year, which is steeped in rituals and traditions that give us joy and keep us grounded. If we at Beautiful Day are finding it challenging to adjust, imagine what it’s like for refugees. What does it mean for them to be “home for the holidays?”
I asked this question of Maliss, our youth program coordinator, who escaped war-torn Cambodia as a teenager. “It doesn’t matter where you are,” she said. “The way you create home is by practicing the rituals that connect you to yourself.” She told me how she and her children decorate the tree “American style.” Yet they also burn incense and clean the house from top to bottom just as they would during the three-day Cambodian New Year’s celebration. They clean to prepare a space for Tevi, the angel, to come and bless their home.
For Maliss, home is forged in rituals that take place at the crossroads where two cultures meet. And as she cleans her house to welcome the angel, she is adding a new layer of hospitality onto American traditions. This couldn’t be more needed. Hostility toward refugees is high. Afghan evacuees wait on military bases. Nicaraguan asylum seekers wait at the Mexican border. As we at Beautiful Day settle into our new space, we remain more committed than ever to growing our job training programs and using our products to promote kindness and connection between refugees and the general public. Like Maliss, we are working to turn our new home into a place that welcomes angels.
Your tax-deductible donation is an investment in refugees like Maliss who are creating new homes here in the US and in the coming together of cultures and traditions that connect us to ourselves. Please donate, or join our monthly subscription program on our website.
Thank you. And may your home be a place that also welcomes angels this holiday season.