Share the Spirit of the Holidays - Starting at Home
2020 Has Been a Rough Year
Holidays just aren't the same this year. My son and my grandsons were going to visit us for Christmas but they can't now because my son's employer won't allow out-of-state travel. Some people are asking why he told them where he was going. They have the right to ask, and they did. He has a great job and didn't want to risk losing it.
That was the final word. But it was a roller coaster of yes, he could go, then no, he can't go, back and forth. Just before the final "No", he was told he could go as long as he had a clear Covid test prior to returning. I was so excited, but now that's not happening.
It's Hard to Keep the Spirit this Year
I'm sitting at home, which is now sparsely decorated since we're still unpacking and no one is coming, and I feel kind of empty. Add to that, my 18-year-old granddaughter just moved out to California. So that hurts too (she has lived with us since she was one).
For those of us who can't share the holidays, it can feel like we're getting gypped out of our family time. But there are warnings in most states right now with the Coronavirus spike that we shouldn't congregate with anyone but those who live in the same house. I don't like to take too many risks.
My brother mentioned that his friend's wife is doing very badly in the hospital with Covid-19 and they're not sure she's going to make it. When I think of that, I realize that if it's (hopefully) just one Christmas without our out-of-town family, then we just have to do it.
He also said something I didn't think about. He said he feels sorry for those that died before the vaccine was available. That same thing has happened over the centuries with any disease where a vaccine was created to stop a virus. My brother-in-law had polio as a child - just prior to the vaccine that came out. The younger kids in the family were able to get the vaccine and no one else suffered from it.
Helping Others Makes You Feel Good
So how do you bolster yourself if you're feeling lonely and/or depressed? Try to help others. There are many different ways, and some are without much, if any, contact:
- Help an elderly friend, neighbor, or relative. You can lift the spirits of an elderly person that lives alone just by stopping by and waving through a storm door or window. I personally believe that you can both be outside, distanced, and wearing masks if you feel more comfortable with that. The weather in Scottsdale, AZ, is still warm enough that you can sit in the back and actually have a nice conversation. Just distance your chairs. You can bring some food to share but be sure to wash and disinfect your hands while handling it. This could make a world of difference to both of you, and it's something that shouldn't just be saved for the holiday.
- Donate toys and clothing. I saw on the news that charities are requesting clothing more than anything else this year. In fact, when we made a donation for pick-up we were told that clothes were needed. Another news segment mentioned that many children are saying they've been told by parents that there won't be Christmas presents this year because there isn't enough money coming in with job losses. So toys are still something that kids will appreciate. And clothing can be donated that will go to children and adults, including the homeless.
- If you're dining out, leave a good tip. We can still go out to restaurants in Scottsdale and the Phoenix area, so we make sure we leave good tips to the workers. I think of these workers having to wear masks during their entire shifts while we can take ours off to eat.
- Don't forget the mail and delivery people. You might think that they're lucky to still be working, but some delivery people are part-time holiday workers. When we lived in IL we had our own mailbox in front of our house, so although it seemed like the mail deliverers changed a lot (in the old days you knew your mailperson by name), it was expected to leave a holiday envelope in your mailbox for them to pick up. Since living in AZ, we've had shared mailboxes, at our townhouse and now our single-family home, so we rarely see a mailperson. Since our recent move, we've given good tips to the movers and furniture delivery guys.
- Donate food. There are many resources for food-collecting, from a local business to a larger charity, and of course, your local food bank. This is probably the easiest thing we can all donate. Better yet, volunteer to collect food donations or work in a soup kitchen.
- Pass out small gift cards to those that have to work on holidays. If you can afford it, collect some small gift cards - fast food, coffee, etc. Pass them out to anyone that has to work on holidays (if you're out and about). We don't have toll booths in Scottsdale, Arizona, but if I were back visiting IL, I might go through one. If you have to run into a store or get fast food, you could pass gift cards out to the workers you encounter. If you are allowed to visit someone in the hospital, you might want to give one to a nice nurse or other workers. Again, this is only for those that can afford to do this and since most of us will be staying in during the actual holiday days, this one is a bit "out there".
- Make Holiday Stockings for Donation. It's not just toys and clothing that less fortunate people want and need. You can buy stockings at the dollar store and fill them with a combination of necessities and maybe some treats. Then donate them to a place that will give them out to you, such as a homeless shelter or other charity organization. Make sure you have a place that will take them before you make them. If you're brave to go out during the pandemic (with a mask & gloves), you can deliver to the homeless yourself.
- Pay it Forward. Buying food in a drive-through? Offer to pay for the car behind you. I've heard of people doing this many times. When my late Mother still drove, she would sit at the dining bar at her favorite restaurant (Black Bear in Gilroy, CA - we now have one in Scottsdale, AZ), and she always talked to strangers. Two or three times, those strangers paid for her meal. If you see an older person dining alone, you could offer to pay their bill. Another idea, and this would be more expensive so would only apply to those that can afford it, is to offer to pay off someone's layaway. You wouldn't even have to pay the entire bill - just make the next payment in advance.
- Shop Local! It is inevitable that many local small businesses will be closing their doors for good in Scottsdale, Cave Creek, and other Phoenix areas. This includes bars, restaurants, stores, and dancing and music venues. Many bars and music venues are closed during the pandemic anyway, but there are small shops and restaurants that are struggling to stay open during the pandemic and after. Try to patronize your favorite places so they don't go under.
It might be more difficult this year, but try to have the happiest holidays you can until life goes back to being more normal.