Merry Christmas to a Stranger!

It is the day after Halloween and the big promotion of holiday glitter and bling has already begun.  Flyers with the latest “must-haves” appear at your door.  Some stores already displayed their Christmas trees in early October.  The Holiday Season can be very exciting for those who thrive on the stimulation of lights, celebrations, socializing, and of course shopping /gift exchanging.   But this is not the case for all.

Many people with depression/anxiety/social anxiety find this time of year to be very challenging.  Instead of bringing to light the good things in life, the Holiday Season often amplifies the things that aren’t so right in their life.  Perhaps loneliness and isolation come more to the surface, especially for those who don’t have a strong network of family and friends.  A person with an anxiety disorder may become overwhelmed by all of the expectations of the season. This is also a challenging time of year for people who have recently suffered a loss, for example a death of a loved one, a breakup of a significant relationship, or a serious health problem.

How can you make this Holiday Season more meaningful?  Here are a few tips.

Instead of breaking the bank on gifts and facing the dreaded credit card bill in January, why not pick names and set a price limit for the gift exchange.  If you are person who enjoys cooking, try getting a few friends together to make home made jams, pickles, preserves, or baking to give out as gifts. Fun can be enjoyed by all and nobody has to incur financial hardship. Simplify the Holiday gathering by doing pot-luck.

One of the more rewarding Holiday activities is to reach out to someone who is lonely or going through a difficult time.  Many Seniors in retirement homes and nursing homes don’t receive many visitors.  A cheerful visit and a simple gift like a box of chocolates or some nice teas could make their day!  Volunteering with your family and friends at a food bank or soup kitchen can add some light into the life of someone who is struggling.  Visit someone who is sick in hospital and add a little spark to their day.

A couple of years ago, I was skating at Gage Park before Christmas.  The park was beautiful with lots of lights and decorations.  As I turned a corner of the rink, I noticed a family giving out small gifts to people who skated by.  Their family tradition was “Merry Christmas to a Stranger”.  This little package of tea was one of the most “meaningful” gifts I have ever received.  It represented the goodness of humanity.

Wishing you Love, Peace and Joy!  Pass it on.  These are the best gifts anyone can give or receive!

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