How Do You Give Back During the Holidays?
Real Simple readers share the many ways they spread good cheer.
VolunteeringWe have decided as a family to serve others during the holidays, so on Christmas Day we volunteer at a local nonprofit that helps children with disabilities. This helps takes the focus off “stuff” and puts it back where it needs to be. Monica Leibacher
Keeping It Up All YearGiving back during the holidays and giving back on any other day of the year should be the same: a warm smile, a “please” or a “thank you,” and maybe a nice hug. Instead of laying on your horn in traffic or pushing your way to the front of a line, take the time to make others’ days a bit happier and you’ll find you’ve given yourself the gift of happiness, too.
We have adopted families and dished out food at our local gospel mission during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the greatest way we have found to give back is to remember to do it all year long. Summer can be especially hard on food banks, and the needs are there year-round, not just at the holidays. We need to feel generous and thankful every day.
We don’t make giving just a seasonal thing. Our kids are involved, and we sponsor a child’s care in a special program at an orphanage in China (halfthesky.org) throughout the year. I also coordinate a program at my daughter’s former orphanage in China. It’s about giving of yourself, not giving money. That is what I want my kids to know, however they decide to give back as they grow.
During the holidays, as well as on special occasions, I often think of the word generosity when honoring friends and family. Generosity can be organizing a room in a friend’s house or sitting with a colleague’s aging parent so that she can run errands. Generosity can also mean helping out our local and worldwide communities: a donation to my church’s food pantry in my buddy’s name, lending support to my city’s latest Habitat for Humanity project, or a gift of service through the Seva Foundation, Heifer International, or Doctors Without Borders for my compassionate nephews. Most people I know are blessed with all the “things” they need, but gifts of generosity strengthen the spirit.
St. Louis, Missouri