by Donna Nahlik, Prevention Specialist II, Chestnut Health Systems
Thanksgiving is over, and…let the shopping begin, right? Only in America do we give thanks for all that we have on one day, and then rush out the next day to buy more. That is not a complaint…just an observation of a phenomenon that many of us are guilty of “buying” into.
Sometimes the meaning of the “season of giving” gets lost in the hustle and bustle of trying to find perfect gifts for a lot of people.
Have you ever felt like this?
IdonothavetimetositdownandhaveacupofcoffeebecauseIhavetobuyallthegiftsand getthetreeanddecoratethehouseandmakesuretobuyallofthefoodandgotothekids concertandbakeallofthecookiesandthrowapartyforourneighborsandwrapallofthepresents…
Phew…maybe it’s time to step back and reassess for a minute. We can do it...sit back…relax…breathe for a minute…and think about it. Is getting the perfect gift and decorating the perfect tree and all of the other thousand tasks that we assign ourselves during the holidays really the message that we want to send to our kids?
Probably not, right? Do not get me wrong. Buying gifts and baking cookies…and all of those other things are FUN! We enjoy them…mostly. But we need to remind ourselves, and teach our kids, that the “season of giving” is not just about buying gifts for our family and friends. It should also be about giving our time…and our talents…to other people.
Giving our time during the holidays should not become one more thing that stresses us out. It is not a contest to see who can do more. Rather, it is a way to teach our kids a couple of lessons that will serve them well in life:
1.Everything is not all about YOU!
2.Doing things for other people is rewarding and FUN!
Most kids will really “get into it” if we approach it in the right way. It is an opportunity to do something nice for someone else this holiday season. It is not a punishment. It should just become part of what we do and who we are as families. Volunteering should be as much a part of our holidays as turkey and shopping. Yes…I really mean that.
It does not have to be a big production. You do not have to organize huge events or spend every weekend volunteering. Just a few hours of your time will brighten someone else’s day and will make your family feel really good about their efforts.
It can be…
• an hour or two spent at a nursing home talking or playing cards with the residents;
•making homemade Christmas cards (out of construction paper and markers…nothing fancy needed) for an area Veterans Hospital;
•raking leaves for a neighbor;
•helping an elderly person decorate their Christmas tree;
•shoveling snow (for free) in your neighborhood;
•getting a group of friends together for Christmas caroling at a retirement center;
•offering to take an elderly neighbor shopping;
•offering two hours of free babysitting to a busy new Mom.
Those are just a few suggestions. Sit down with your kids and brainstorm ways for your family to volunteer. Get involved. Help someone out. Make a difference in our community. I guarantee that it will be worth it.
Have a wonderful holiday season.