Major holidays for at least two groups, Christians and Jews, come at a time of the year when not only is the weather not cooperating (unless you like cold and snow), but the corporations are not cooperating. It’s the time of the year when layoffs happen and losing your job at holiday time is particularly painful.
But, even if you don’t have your job or you’re happily retired, holidays underscore can exacerbate feelings of loneliness because of all the joy being promoted by the media and retail
establishments. Santas are standing on street corners collecting money, the Post Office is getting letters to Santa, groups are collecting for food baskets, gifts and meals for the homeless. You may be asking, “What about me? Who’s doing anything to help me deal with my loneliness?”
Wrong question. Look back in the history books and see what President Kennedy said at his inauguration. Taking some liberty with his “ask not…” part of the speech, I’d say ask not what others can do for you but what you can do for yourself and others. Yes, you because you have choices here.
What can you do for yourself? Here are some ideas you might try out right now:
1. Join a church or community group that’s helping bring cheer to kids, patients in hospitals, nursing homes or homeless shelters. This list isn’t exhaustive and you can think of more.
2. See if your local Habitat for Humanity would like some help on
one of their holiday projects or even for the rest of the year. They are wonderful people who build homes for people and any extra hands are surely welcomed.
3. Who’s doing what in your neighborhood where neighbors can get together for holiday cheer? This, after all, is a giving and togetherness time of year and people are eager to share joyful moments.
4. Are any restaurants planning holiday meals for persons in need? I know a chain that, each year, puts up a Christmas tree in each store with cards on it. Each card is from a child who has a
Christmas wish and patrons are asked to take a card, buy the gift, wrap it and bring it to the store. This “secret Santa” idea has been a big hit with them for about a decade. And the kids love it.
5. Are the local fire or police departments doing something in the community where they can use volunteers? It’s a great way to meet your neighbors and begin new friendships.
Yes, most of these ideas center around giving to others but we know, from lots of studies, that giving to others means giving to yourself. It helps both your mood, your physical health and our outlook on life in general. To turn a phrase again: Charity helps those who help others.