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How to be a Help in Hard Holiday Times

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This time of year, the sun shines less, and darkness covers us for longer periods of time. Warmth is slowly replaced with a chill in the air. It will soon turn downright frigid. Traffic is thicker on the roads and in the stores. Patience is scarce. And though it is a season of excitement and anticipation, it can also be a season of overwhelming loneliness. Depression sets in for people who have lost touch with or buried loved ones. For those with more sickness than health. For those with more bills than money to cover them. Misery does not love company, but unfortunately travels with desperation.

Thankfully, there are places to find help in hard times.

Resources in our Communities

There are so many resources and organizations that are awaiting your help. They wait for your time and donations. And they are waiting to BE a help to those who need it.  We may use our public libraries and social media to look up those local resources. Crisis ministries, food banks, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, animal shelters, and help with bills. Those are good places to find ways to “give back” by making donations or volunteering time. And they’re good places to contact when we need help ourselves.

Other Ways to Help

But there are additional ways we can help “make the season bright” that are not necessarily posted on a website or community bulletin board at the library. If we keep our eyes and ears open, we will find ways to shine. Often during this time of year we will see people on our busier street corners holding signs asking for help. We may not always have extra funds to share, but what if we make goodie bags with snacks, travel size hygiene items, and a card of encouragement to keep in our vehicles to give out instead. Which one of our neighbors rarely has a visitor or would appreciate our company? Who might need some assistance cleaning windows, decorating, shopping, baking, or prepping their holiday cards?

How many convalescent centers, senior centers, or veterans programs could we help by showering a lonesome grandparent or veteran with gifts or visits? We could reach out to nearby schools and ask a guidance counselor if they know of a child who could use a little extra kindness. Maybe a gift could be purchased and sent to the school for the guardian to give to that child. And there are always first responders we could bless with a gift basket of self-care items, coffees, cards, and treats. What about goodie bags of foods they can eat on the go when they are too busy for a sit-down meal?

Curing Holiday Blues with Connection

A key to getting past the holiday blues is in connecting with others. Some of the things mentioned above provide some ideas on how to interact with someone. There are other ways if you keep your eyes and ears open. Many of our churches have programs and  fundraisers happening this time of year. Or just weekly services we could visit. There are parades and festivals sprinkled throughout many communities. Local recreation centers have different programs and classes that are open to the public. Ask around. Stop in and see what’s on their community bulletin boards. We could even host a cookie swap or game night at the local rec center. Or host something in our own homes, inviting neighbors or friends/family we haven’t seen in a while.

We all have special talents and gifts. And we all have needs, too. We’re all going through this often stressful holiday season together. For some, it can be hectic. For others, fun. But it can be lonely for many. For all of us, it can be a chance to reconnect or to make brand new connections. We can sprinkle our hearts and spirits with all kinds of feelings, memories, and experiences. It’s up to us to reach out, step out, and use a little imagination. Most of all, we need to act on what we’ve seen or heard after keeping our eyes and ears open to those who need us.