The season of giving is upon us. For most, it’s a joyous time of year spent with family and friends, partaking in fun activities, traditions, and memory making. The holiday season kicks off with Thanksgiving, a time when we gather together and give thanks for our many blessings. For some, the holiday season can be terribly lonely, depressing, and downright stressful. Feelings of anxiety, darkness, and despair replace moments that should be filled with joy.
Take a moment to stop and reflect upon your holiday season. Do you find yourself looking forward to it? Dreading it? Whichever side you fall on, there’s an opportunity to change it for the better. Through the gift of giving, you can both give joy and find joy. In fact, “giving” has been proven to decrease blood pressure and reduce stress. We were created to serve others, which is why we naturally find joy in doing so. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a large bank account to be able to give to others. Sharing your time, talents, and company can go just as far as sharing your financial blessings. Here are a few ways to kick-off your holiday season with the spirit of giving.
Send a Card
Create a homemade card to send to someone this holiday. Think of those who may be lonesome or going through a challenging time in their life. Perhaps a colorful, festive illustration with a motivational message may lift the spirits of a child spending their holiday in the hospital. A heartfelt note sent to a deployed soldier can brighten their holiday season.
“Bake” a Difference
If your talents lie in the kitchen, consider baking some homemade treats to share with others. You can bring them to your neighbors, a local homeless shelter, community service workers, or anyone else you’d like to bless. As you’re making the treats, think about the people you’re preparing them for, and pour your love into them.
Volunteer at a Food Bank
Donating your time to the food bank is a wonderful way to give back to the community. Because people feel compelled to give, especially during the holidays, the food bank is particularly busy this time of year. Helping to sort goods, stock shelves, and distribute groceries to those in need allows you to serve others while fostering new relationships at the same time.
Serve in a Soup Kitchen
We often take a nice, warm meal for granted. However, many people do not know when their next meal will be. Serving in a soup kitchen, and providing this basic necessity for someone else, can bring joy to the most vulnerable in our community. By lifting others’ spirits with a home cooked meal, you won’t only be warming bellies, but hearts as well.
Organize a Toy Drive
Consider organizing a toy drive through your church, community center, senior living facility, or another group of choice. If spearheading a toy collection seems too ambitious, donate your time to an organization that helps to collect and distribute toys and gifts to those in need. Imagining the little faces of innocent children lighting up on Christmas morning will bring a smile to your own face.
Sponsor a Family
If you’re in a financial position to help out another family during the holiday season, consider sponsoring a family this year. Sometimes families unexpectedly face hardships and wonder how they will make ends meet. You can serve as their Christmas “angel” and provide them with gifts and a proper holiday meal. This generous act can fully restore one’s faith in humanity and give them the inspiration needed to move forward.
Knit for Others
Perhaps your favorite pastime is knitting beautiful scarves, hats, blankets, or other items. Put your talent to good use and donate your items to someone who may need them. Hospital nurseries, infusion centers, and homeless shelters are just a few venues that can benefit from your talents.
If you find yourself in a place where you feel empty with nothing to give, do not despair. Please seek help and allow yourself to be on the receiving end of someone else’s good deed. Sometimes we just need a little extra assistance from others to turn our outlook around. Through the act of giving, relationships are formed, and friendships are made. You never know where one simple act of kindness can lead you.