Winter means many things to many people; Thanksgiving, Christmas, the start of a new year, warm clothes, hot chocolate, skiing, skating, reading a great book by the fire, thinking about holiday times past, those we have loved and lost, and those who are still with us.
It’s also a wonderful time to do some behind-the-scenes-good. It’s a great time of year to go through closets and drawers for unused or seldom-used coats, boots, gloves, scarves, hats, blankets, and so on. If you haven’t used them in the past year, chances are you won’t use them again. Bring them to your local shelter for those who could use some warmth this winter. The same goes for toys that your kids have grown out of; clean them up and donate them. People who need them will be happy, and you will gain more closet space.
When our good Marines ask for donations for Toys for Tots, don’t forget the older kids, too, especially the teen girls. Great items for them are gift cards, makeup, earrings, bracelets (stretch and leather ones are huge this year), cute hats and scarves, nail polish, fingerless gloves, and so on.Although your average teen can come off as aloof and above it all, they like being remembered and getting a few gifts.
The senior centers need gifts as well; often these folks have no one in their lives but those at the center. Gifts of warm scarves, slippers, socks, ties, Christmas jewelry, CDs and DVDs, and so on are welcome. If you enjoy sewing or knitting, you can make some lap robes, too–these are small blankets that seniors can put over their laps and legs while watching TV in warmth and comfort. If you’re not sure what to give, contact the senior center in your town to see what the needs are. Money of course is always welcome.
The animal shelters always welcome cat and dog toys, towels and blankets (you can clean and donate your used ones and then treat yourself to new ones), food and litter, and of course, volunteer work and money. Often the shelters are overwhelmed and could use help in walking dogs, brushing long-haired cats, cleaning litter boxes and so on.
If you enjoy face-to-face contact, the local shelters and food kitchens can always use cheerful helpers to serve dinners to the many guests who come in for a holiday meal. (Also remember that people are hungry all through the year, not just on the holidays.)
If you are a jewelry hog like I am, consider gifting some of your bits and bobs you don’t wear any longer. You can include a note with the gift explaining where the item came from, how it came to be yours, and why you want the receiver to have it.
A big gift to ourselves is the warmth we feel when we give to someone, and it is even warmer when we do it anonymously. The thing to remember is that we are giving to help someone, not shame them into being grateful to us. Another gift we can give ourselves is to let go of the hurts and anger we have harbored over the year. If you lent someone money and they have not paid you back despite your reminding them; let it go and consider it a gift (I’ve done this myself, and it’s amazing how freeing it is–you actually feel good about the gift you unwittingly gave). Likewise if you are angry with someone about a real or imagined slight and, despite the other person’s apology, can’t let it go–give yourself and your nervous system a boost and forgive it AND forget it. Staying angry at someone is like swallowing poison, and expecting the other person to die. Let it go, and give yourself and the other person the gift of forgiveness.
- Bear in mind, too, that there are still people out there who enjoy the ubiquitous Christmas fruitcake (such as the Crankee Yankee (my husband) and me). We are part of the fruity and nutty folk who really enjoy a good fruitcake.
- While we’re talking about gift-giving and the Christmas spirit, let me just say that I don’t know a single person who would enjoy getting a Chia pet for Christmas. Just sayin’….