Guest Author - April Alisa Marquette
While there are many advertisements touting family togetherness, and smiling people singing merrily around Christmas trees at this time of year, there are indeed other people; those for whom the holidays hold no cheer. During the Advent Season some people wind up feeling decidedly blue.
Why? One might ask. Well there are many reasons...the loss of employment, or a loved one. Perhaps a person doesn't have that special someone they desire to spend the holidays with. However, on today I would like to say that the best way to beat the holiday doldrums, if you experience them, would be to think of someone else. Instead of focusing on conflicts with the ex, why not try a new way? One can do so by giving the best gift -- a part of their self! By that I mean: give your time, your presence, your essence; lend someone else a helping hand.
There are organizations that need you. There are people who need you. They need your help. Perhaps there is an elderly person who lives nearby, one who is basically alone, or homebound. If you can slice off store bought cookie dough, or even if you are good with sugar, flour and the other ingredients needed to bake, why not do so? Then share with your neighbor.
Instead of lying somewhere thinking 'Oh I feel so bad; woe is me,' why not think... not of yourself, but of someone else? In many communities, like the one I grew up in, there are outreach ministries. One is Atlanta’s Hosea Feed the Hungry. This nonprofit organization and others have websites where those who would like to volunteer can log in, see the programs offered, and get involved. On Christmas day, why not go serve a meal to someone whose hard times are much worse than your own? If you won't do that, perhaps you can simply greet people. Or you can donate. It has been documented that with acts of service, it is less likely that one will continue to focus on their self and on the things they don't have. Rather, thoughts more actively turn to the things that one does have, things they can offer.
But where would I start? This a person might wonder. Well...there are online articles, as well as those carried in traditional newspapers which suggest and list agencies that need help fulfilling holiday wishes. Local papers and penny-savers also carry stories about upcoming events where help and donations would be greatly appreciated. I know for a fact that different community organizations as well as neighborhood churches often make provisions for individuals and families in need. Don't forget those who are in the hospital. They might like to see a smiling face or receive a visit from some who will wish them well.
Armed with this knowledge, tell yourself that in the spirit of Christmas you are going to give all you can. Remind yourself that the greatest gifts needn't cost oodles of money. All that is required is an open heart. Then if you'd like to open your wallet, and splurge for children's toys or any other form of holiday cheer to make someone else's holiday bright, then by all means. Curiously, you will find that not only did the other person receive a gift, so did you!