Have you started the Christmas shopping yet? Or are you one of the ultra efficient types that has everything purchased, wrapped, tagged and ready to go?
Did you remember everyone on your list? Did your list have a couple of extra people on it? If it didn’t, take the time to check it again.
Everyone wants to enjoy the holidays, with pretty packages under a tree twinkling with lights. But the simple truth, especially this year, is that many in the community will have a hard time making those celebrations happen. Job losses, home foreclosures, combined with the rising cost of everything from gas to food, will make it more difficult for some to have happy holidays.
That’s where being a community, in the truest sense of the word, comes in. It would be hard to miss the various collection boxes, trees with nametags and barrels in multiple businesses and locations around town. There are collections for children in foster care, kids in our local schools that need warm coats, the elderly in nursing homes with no one to offer them a gift, families that will need some help putting food on the table … and those that ‘have’ this year hopefully will share that holiday spirit with those that ‘have not.’
The true meaning of Christmas is love, giving of yourself without a thought to what you might get back … and it is in that selfless act that the greatest rewards can be reaped.
What better example can we set for our children than ‘sharing the wealth’ – or at least, sharing what there is.
If you and your family are able, take a few moments and grab a tag off a holiday tree, go buy a gift or two for one of the many toy drives and drop them off in the collection box or barrel. Get your children involved by having them help pick out the gifts for a child in need. Start a family tradition of caring; one less gift for each child in your own family can go a long way to helping fulfill the holiday wishes of others less fortunate.
We all know that there is no shortage of needs. So forego that morning latte one day or take a lunch from home instead of ‘driving through’ somewhere and put that money toward one of the holiday drives.
Local food banks could use some help in the way of donations, to provide for residents that won’t otherwise have a hot holiday meal. Coats for Kids is a longstanding charity that gets gently used and new coats to youngsters throughout the Central Valley to help ward off the winter chill. Adopt-a-grandparent programs seek simple, useful gifts for the elderly in local nursing homes.
Share of yourself as well; take a few minutes to brighten the day of an elderly person. What will it cost you to stop by and offer a smile, a hug? Certainly the days are full and schedules are jam-packed but five minutes to us can mean a world of difference to a nursing home resident whose visitors are few and far between.
We’re not telling you anything you don’t already know. It does seem as if we are inundated with requests for help. Salvation Army kettle ringers, Toys for Tots, canned food drives, coat drives … everywhere you look, the needs are unending.
While economists tell us that things are on the upswing, the recovery will not be immediate. So we urge you to do what you can at this time to help meet the needs in your own community. It’s a way for us all to have ‘happy holidays’ together.