This week I have been surrounded by really sad things happening to the people I love and care for. This season is hard for so many as we see the visions of what a Christmas celebration is suppose to look like in the media. The family gathered around the tree as cars laden down with beautifully wrapped presents descend on grandma’s house. The delicious meal is prepared and gifts are lovingly unwrapped and treasured by all around.
But the reality is different for many families. There may be members missing this year due to death, physical distance or emotional battles. Not everyone has an idyllic holiday season. I was home visiting my parents this past week and I saw the nativity scene that has been there every Christmas for all of my life. But the little angel at the top had fallen down and needed a little help from me to get back up. I could have let it lay there, but I took the second to help it get back in place looking down at the nativity scene.
This image of being a helper has stayed with me ever since. I want to be a helper this holiday season. My client last week reminded me that I am living that already when she told me that she sees how I value people in my life. As we were working hard to get rid of her clutter she saw how I was helping a friend through a tough custody decision. Or sending positive messages to friends. I spend time on people not on things.
I told one of my best friends who loves to buy gifts that she didn’t need to buy me anything, just a coffee date with her is all I want. She replied that she already figured out the perfect gift and it was a coffee gift card so that we can spend time together. I love that she knows this about me. She loves giving gifts and I love spending time with people so we both win out on this.
Here are some ways that you can be a helper this holiday season:
Make a phone call. You have that person that you haven’t talked to in a very long time. The thoughts of calling them are always on your mind. Just pick up the phone and call.
Do some housework without being asked. My husband has the love language of acts of service, so whenever I can I do things around the house that he normally does. This season I will make an extra effort of rinsing the dishes and loading the dishwasher, even though it is his chore.
If you see a stranger in need, help. Last year while walking into the grocery store I was worried about falling on the ice and the kind bag boy told me not to worry as he would be there to help me up. What a reassuring thought he gave me that allowed me to walk a little bit more confident. I have held babies in airports so moms flying solo can use the restroom. It is a gift to help as it feels fantastic.
Volunteer. Find a place in the community that needs help over the holidays and show up. Ask your friends to join you. Perhaps instead of the typical gift exchange or evening out you cook a meal in your community for the homeless or the senior population.
If you see something out of place, put it away. When I am walking with my middle son I often see him pick up trash and throw it away. I asked him what he was doing and his reply was simple, if he doesn’t do it, who will? It is up to all of us to be good stewards. This doesn’t just mean trash, it could be the items in your house too. Just like the angel on the nativity set, it was out of place and I put it back where it belonged.
Smile more. It makes a difference to the service providers around you when you smile and make eye contact. I use to work as a cashier and it was surprising to me how many people did not make eye contact and smile. You will make someone’s day while giving a genuine smile and if you know their name use it and say thank you as you leave.
Make the trip. Sometimes you need to pile the family in the car and go to the relatives for the holidays. You may not want to, and the kids and spouse may groan, but know that it makes a difference to the people you are visiting. This 4th of July my family and I drove 500 miles round trip in a day for a 90 minute lunch with my extended family. I knew it meant a lot to my mom, so we made the trip. I don’t regret it for a minute.
Listen more, talk less. This is the time of year that we all get so busy, but take the time to stop and really listen. It could be a choir that is singing in the mall or it could be your spouse (believe me I need to really listen to him more!) Or it could be your child reading a bedtime story. Just stop for a minute and listen.
So as you go through this holiday season think less about the physical gifts and more about the other ways that you can help. I want to live in a JOY and peace filled world and it begins with me and hopefully you too!
To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,
Melissa is a Productivity Consultant living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things!