Most folks love this time of year because of the generosity that the season appears to invoke in others. There is an expected air of humanity being nicer to one another, having more patience, spending more money than most of us should, the need to make everything perfect. It doesn’t matter if it’s in our professions or in our habits. We expect to be dazzled during the season. Most places accomplish this task. The pandemic has made all of us re-think how we approach what gestures we do, how we communicate, and how we touch each other through monetary and physical gifts. Gifts are not the purpose of the season. They have been made out to be important in our society but somewhere along the way, we have forgotten what it means to create holiday cheer for ourselves and those around us. Here are a few examples of people who could use holiday cheer.
The Military. There are a lot of people serving in various branches, countries, destinations, ports, cities, and provinces. Some of these men and women don’t have people who take the time to remember them. They don’t get cards or care packages. Yet, they are diligent in making sure all of us are safe. They are on the front lines of those who wish to do us harm and they rarely get acknowledged for their service. Holiday cheer for them should not be once in a blue moon. No one should feel that their sacrifices are not respected and valued. If you see a serviceman or woman, remember to thank them, offer them a cup of coffee or tea, let them know they are valued. You don’t have to wait for the holiday season to give you a feeling of cheer. All you have to do is be open to others. Recognize the battles others may be fighting.
Students also are feeling isolated this year. Never before have we had to fight so diligently to stay healthy as we are now. It’s easy to forget students during this time. They are not getting to spend time in their classrooms, or roam the hallways with their friends, a hug has become almost out of the question, and one-on-one interaction is all but non-existent. Their lives have been turned upside-down and they have not been equipped to handle the isolation as well as adults. They are young and need socialization interaction. A care package for them or a card goes a long way in letting them know they are not alone.
Seniors also suffer throughout the year. There is a lot of ignorance when it comes to seniors. Many people believe that seniors have a family to help care for them. Supposedly, seniors have children and grandchildren. Newsflash! Many of them do NOT have a support system. If you don’t believe me, take a look for yourself. There are a lot of people in assisted living, as well as in our society who have no special needs who do not have children or grandchildren. Some of the seniors may be estranged from their families. People can say what they want about politics but there has been a lot of division between older and younger generations and their beliefs. Some seniors may have biological children but their children do not wish to be burdened with their parents. The holidays can be a very lonely time for people who are either estranged from their family or have no family.
Divorced, separated, or grieving folks are often forgotten during the holidays. It breaks my heart to acknowledge this, but many people are finding themselves alone this year. The holidays make many who are alone feel unwanted. When I went through my divorce, it helped to have people in my life I could lean on. Holidays were especially tough, but I would receive encouragement, cards, and phone calls from people who just wanted me to know that I wasn’t alone. We all need that type of support. It’s crucial that we all feel worthy of being listened to. Don’t offer sympathy. Just offer an ear. Let the person who is grieving their loss be allowed to be sad. They need to find ways to deal with the hurt. Be there when they need you. Even if they don’t think they do, the reassurance you provide is worth more than any gift under a tree.
Bullied or those who are different. Let’s face it. Most of us know someone who is being bullied. It may be you, a friend, acquaintance, or someone you see at work. Suicides are extremely high during the holidays. If we, as a society, do not find ways to stop the cycle, it WILL continue. The holidays are a time for hope, peace, joy, and love. It should not be a time for anger and abuse. Yet, there are many who forget what the season is about. If you or someone you know is fighting depression, anxiety, bullying, or any type of abuse, please, I implore you to seek help. The people causing the pain are the ones with the issues but they get off on a power kick of hurting others. Don’t let them make you a victim. Love yourself enough to recognize that you can’t fix others. You can only fix yourself.
My hope is that you all find people who can make a difference in their lives for the better. You don’t have to wait on a holiday season for those actions. Have the foresight to recognize that your actions have ripple effects. Our church does care packages for the seniors every Christmas holiday and they have started to do front porch visits for those who can’t get out easily. They are willing to do errands and help out where they can. There are always things we can do for one another that don’t have to wait for Christmas. Spread a little kindness, let others know you are thinking of them, and most importantly, learn that giving of yourself is more valuable than you will ever comprehend. We all have the power to change the world for the better. Let’s use that power to make a brighter, safer, productive, and positive world.