Question from Dee in Baltimore, Maryland:For all of the families that have lost their jobs, lost their homes, probably unemployment checks, and probably more, how can we make it a Happy Holiday for them? This is a time of sharing and love so what are your suggestions to make this a better holiday and to look to a better new year?
Bette's Advice: This truly is a time of sharing and love, thanks to people like you! Your warmth and compassion are inspiring! You also ask a great question. "How can we make it a Happy Holiday for them?" Here are a few ideas of things we can do to make this a great holiday season for those who are struggling in our own home towns:
• Many communities are collecting toys for kids who wouldn't otherwise receive any gifts. We can buy toys and donate them;
• Food pantries nationwide are struggling to stock enough food for the demand they have this year. We can donate groceries;
•My community has a holiday dinner for those without any place to go on Christmas Day and they are looking for volunteers to help cook and serve. I'm sure other communities are doing the same or something similar. Check with your local churches, synagogues, newspapers, etc…;
•How about inviting a family who has had a tough time to your family's celebration? Be sure not to humiliate anyone with your kindness. Some people may be embarrassed by your offers, so be sure to respect everyone's dignity at all times. Ask your local Pastor if he/she knows of a family who might like to join you. Having a go-between reduces the embarrassment factor. (This is one reason why many people prefer to show their generosity through charities.)
•There are many worthy charitable organizations looking for donations to help those in need this year. Even simply writing a check in any amount makes a difference to those who benefit!
Choose to give in a way that excites you, because when you are truly giving from the heart, it also offers you the gift of feeling good about what you've done. If you have kids, being a model of generosity during the holidays teaches the wonderful values of compassion and a sense of community.
My hope for those struggling this holiday season is to remember to be grateful for the little things – there's always something, even in the tough times. Perhaps having a "giftless Christmas" can become the best Christmas of all! It's all about perspective and attitude! Choose to make it beautiful in new and creative ways. It doesn't have to cost any money at all!
Remember, the holidays and all year long are not about the material "stuff", but about relationships, spending time together and finding joy within ourselves. Here's to a better 2011 for everyone!