Isn’t it interesting how Christmas and New Year’s fall within a week of each other? A season of giving and a season of new beginnings overlap. Few other holidays inspire us to reflect on and consider our lives more than these two. And as we look inward, very often we tend to also look outward.
It can be difficult to determine what exactly is the best way to give back during the Christmas season. Should it be some grand gesture or a small, anonymous act of kindness? Is there room for both, between the commercial demands of shopping, working, and navigating traffic? When it’s cold and wintry outside and all you want to do is nothing, how can you pace yourself with the cultural need to do something for someone else this season?
We at Explore Rexburg don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we sure love to give helpful suggestions. And we have a few on how to make this Christmas season not only ring, but resonate.
Wield a snow shovel
If you take a look around outside, you’ll see that snow plows, maintenance workers, and guys from church have done a lot in the way of snow removal. The rest of us tend to do much less. It’s chore enough to clear off our cars in the morning without taking the time to shovel a path, much less a driveway.
This is where “the Christmas spirit” comes in to remind us that snow is inconvenient for everyone, not just us. And if you wield a snow shovel, you wield a great power and responsibility. If you don’t own one, then I don’t know what I can do for you. You live in southeast Idaho. You should own a snow shovel. Take advantage of all this snow we get by removing it from the paths of friends and neighbors.
Not every donation has to go in a box outside your doctor’s office, or to a school drive, or the Salvation Army, although these are all perfectly worthy causes. In this age in which we live, making donations to responsible and helpful organizations has never been easier. Remember how much you don’t want to go out in that snowstorm? There are numerous online charity organizations that run the gamut of worthy causes: pick one and donate from your couch. And through programs like GoFundMe, you can specify who or what your donation goes to.
You can also help out your fellow Idahoans in need. When you donate to the Idaho Food Bank, you “give hope for the holidays.”
Get gifts for strangers
We all expect presents at Christmastime (even if we may insist that we don’t need any), but usually from family and friends. On the other hand, nothing puts the surprise and wonder of childhood Christmas mornings back into the holiday like receiving something unexpected from someone unexpected. It even beats getting presents from Santa (also a perfect stranger to most of us). Whether you see it from up close or far, it’s a cathartic experience to know someone has been totally blindsided by the generosity of a stranger.
Christmas doesn’t always come in boxes or bags either, as The Grinch reminds us. Buy lunch for the next person in line or leave baked goods on a random doorstep. Or you can even provide Christmas for a person or family in need. The only limits of giving back this Christmas are your imagination.
Sometimes, the best thing a person can receive for Christmas is an outstretched hand. The holidays, with all their pomp and festivity, have the potential to be very lonely for a lot of people. Displacement, disease, and death don’t close for the holidays, which leaves it up to us to take care of each other. However you choose to do it, be it through social media or a letter or in-person, reach out to someone who may not be feeling so merry and bright this week. You and I can do a lot for someone else, so let’s get to it!
When you review 2017 and consider the meaning of Christmas, allow this season to move you to action. Whether you are lending a shovel to a neighbor or showing them you care, your outward gaze is the best road to giving back. See others, and put yourself in the position to help them. You can do this as much at home as you can throughout Rexburg. Let’s make this a Christmas season to remember.
“Christmas is doing a little extra for someone.” — Charles M. Schulz