Finding Joy During the Holiday Season
By Dana Humphrey
Right after Halloween is over it feels as though we are overwhelmed with Hallmark movie commercials, Target ads, and Black Friday specials that “tell” us we need to model our lives and want the things they’re selling in order to have a Happy Holidays. We don’t. We are perfectly capable of finding our own joy outside of what influencers and streaming services dictate as happiness. Some of the things that bring joy to me are outlets for creativity, the arts, and animals.
Dancing is one form of art and expression I am especially passionate about. Not only do I look forward to any opportunity I can have to dance myself, but I’m also very involved with an organization called Dance Parade New York. “To promote dance as an expressive and unifying art form by showcasing all forms of dance, educating the general public about the opportunities to experience dance, and celebrating the diversity of dance in New York City by sponsoring a yearly city-wide dance parade and dance festival” is the mission statement of Dance Parade New York. And it resonates deeply with the feelings I have about dance.
Since 2008, Dance Parade’s ten-week school programs employ teaching artists in order to get kids moving and learning the art and passion of dance. All donations that were made in 2023 helped over 1,500 students culminate their programs at New York City’s largest dance event, the 17th Annual Dance Parade and Festival that took place on May 20th, 2023. All monetary contributions helped to benefit teaching artists serving programs in NYC iSchool Chelsea, Manhattan, I.S. 347, School of Humanities, Bushwick, Brooklyn, P.S. 86K The Irvington, Brooklyn, P.S. X114 Luis Llorens Torres School, Bronx, P.S. 112Q Dutch Kills School, Queens, International Charter School, Brooklyn, PS56, The Lewis Latimer School, Brooklyn, Fort Hamilton Senior Recreation Center, Brooklyn, P.S. X537 Bronx Arena High School, Bronx, University Neighborhood High School, Manhattan, P.S./M.S. 34 Franklin D Roosevelt School, Manhattan, and Ft. Greene Park, Brooklyn. Whether it’s helping to organize and get the word out about their annual parade, fundraising for their different educational programs, or performing in the parade myself, Dance Parade New York is one of the things that brings contentment and happiness to my life.
Animals are also a big part of what brings joy to my life. Staying in or coming home to my cats at my apartment in Rockaway always makes me feel content and that vibe of what makes a house a home. It’s also important to me to help those who can’t always help themselves and give animals a voice. A pet’s illness can be just devastating, and even more so if one isn’t able to obtain or afford treatment for their loved one. One organization that I hold near and dear to my heart is Moose’s March. Moose’s March was founded in memory of Moose P. Montgomery, a beloved companion who tragically lost his battle with Stage 4 Lymphoma on May 14, 2022. His legacy lives on through Moose’s March, a non-profit that works to spread awareness about cancer screenings for dogs and assist those affected by pet cancer. Moose’s March strives to help those facing challenges affording critical care for the treatment of their pet. Moose’s passing serves as a reminder of the devastating impact of cancer which is the leading cause of death in dogs over the age of two years in the US and it affects all breeds and sizes. Early detection of cancer in dogs is crucial in improving outcomes. Earlier cancer detection can not only help save lives, but it can also enhance the dog’s quality of life and allow more time with their family. Though pet cancer is not a particularly happy and joyful aspect, the ability for me to help those find comfort and support helps me to have a sense of fulfillment in my own life. I personally lost my senior pug Winston to cancer a few years back, and his presence in my life brought a lot of joy.
The above are just a few of the things that bring joy to my life not just during the holiday season, but all year round. You don’t have to attach yourself permanently to a foundation or organization in order to do good and feel that giving spirit. Simply donating to a cause that calls to you on Giving Tuesday or during one of their major fundraisers can bring that feeling of contentment. Signing up for lessons for something you’ve always wanted to do but always talked yourself out of for some reason can also add joy to your life. Being happy with what you have and celebrating gratitude is a big one!
Finding what makes you joyful also helps with that post-holiday slump feeling. We go from three months of excitement, celebrations, and gatherings to a severe decline in elation. When you find what brings you joy, you can have and keep that feeling no matter what season it is. Pinterest-inspired table settings and decor aren’t necessary for fulfillment during the holidays – just enjoy your life.
This #GivingTuesday please consider donating to Dance Parade New York (https://danceparade.org/donate/), Moose’s March (https://www.moosesmarch.com/donate), or Rockaway Creates (https://www.rockawaycreates.org/copy-of-about-us-1 and click on JOIN NOW).