By Jess Wagner, Alumni Coordinator 

There is no perfect time to seek treatment. However, anytime someone identifies that treatment may benefit their life or the life of their loved one is the right time. That sometimes means putting plans, birthdays, school, vacations and holidays on hold until after the depths of addiction or mental unrest can be processed in a safe environment. 

The holiday season is in full swing and holidays spent in treatment can bring up a lot. Family members wishing they would have known sooner, clients in isolation or wishing that they could just be surrounded by loved ones and pause their recovery. It is real. It is not easy. But knowing that you or your loved one could be surrounded by people that wish to recover in a safe environment could be the saving grace and light that is needed in such a tumultuous time. 

Thanksgiving was spent in the North Wash Desert here in our field area. The Juniper Canyon teams joined together for a feast. They gathered at one group site and built a 10 ft long fire pit that resembled a long feasting table, and the woman sat together talking about traditions in their family dynamics. We played a game of Turkey Facts (fact check: turkeys have beards) and ate fire roasted ham, stuffing, cranberry sauce, potatoes, gravy, and green beans all topped off with pies and whipped cream. We even brought out gluten free pumpkin bread and stuffing from Trader Joes for the few team members who are gluten intolerant! We crafted, played games, and enjoyed each other’s company in a space that was safe. That same weekend we also went canyoneering, climbing and bouldering. 

Upon returning to base, we put up a harvested Christmas Tree in the living room, decorated it playing holiday music (mostly Trans Siberian Orchestra), and baked treats. While our clients are away from their families, the holiday cheer is still present. It is still surrounding the Juniper Canyon folks, just in a different way. There are returning guides that have spent the last 3 years working on certain holidays. There are volunteers that come for the special occasion because they know how hard it is to choose yourself during the holiday season. 

Things to look forward to during the rest of this holiday season here at Juniper Canyon: stockings and a holiday feast at base, musicians playing joyful music, and another celebration in the field later this month. And of course, an epic start to the New Year! Rather than dwell on where they’re not, we try to give our clients unique holiday memories to kick start their recovery, because a holiday spent at Juniper Canyon or Legacy is not one to soon be forgotten.