KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Through their job or volunteer work well-off people get invitations to Christmas parties and Christmas gatherings and dinners.
For many people on income assistance those invitations can be a problem.
Keep in mind that most financially better off people are married or have common law partners. This is often not the case with people living in poverty.
I personally know one social assistance recipient in my community who receives a free invite to a Christmas event which takes place every December.
Tickets for this event are either $30 or $20. But for this person it is free. It’s a case of knowing the right people. He happens to know the executive director of the not for profit organization who organizes this event through the volunteering he does.
It so happens that the past three years he attended the Christmas event. However, he felt uncomfortable being there. This also explains why he decided not to go this year.
This event takes place in a ballroom at a classy hotel with a place where you check you coats when you first walk into the ballroom.
There is cash bar included with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Beverages cost at least $3 per drink. A well-prepared three course turkey dinner is served as part of this Christmas event. This is included with the ticket, so no extra charge. Nice Christmas music is played during dinner.
Following the dinner there are first a few speeches, then a dance. The dance lasts a couple of hours.
This social assistance recipient usually is the only person present at the event without a partner.
He is told he can bring a guest, however it will cost $30 for his guest to attend. Keep in mind that $30 is something that no income assistance recipient can afford.
So of course income assistance recipients feel they have to turn down those invitations. It is not hard to figure out why.
Dinner and dancing is what takes place as part of this event. Dinner and dancing are examples of the type of fun that financially better off people, especially married and common law couples, sometimes love to do. Dancing is a pretty relaxing activity.
When the person who gets this invite has attended this event in the past, he felt socially lost. There is no opportunity for him to get to get to know the people of this organization.
Also he finds that he is the only person in attendance at this Christmas event who does not have either a guest/date, a common law partner, or a spouse to accompany him.
Other income assistance recipients get these invites as well. However, they say that they too feel socially lost, and others tell me they just turn down the invitation.
They tell me that they wish they could just sleep the month of December away. It’s not because they don’t like Christmas, it’s because of all the things like this, that become complicated just because you are poor.
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