I’ve been talking and writing a lot about the holidays, because I’ve seen how much my friends and others are doing this season, and how they’re sometimes a little hesitant to talk about the struggles they’re having. After all, this is supposed to be the season of joy, the time when everyone is cheerful—at least according to all the smiling family photos and Christmas letters detailing lots of accomplishments that land in the mailbox every day.
But we can’t all be joyful all of the time. And it’s a real challenge sometimes when you’re juggling work, family, laundry, cooking, and a million other little things that never seem to get done. Add holiday decorating, gift shopping, and the usual round of seasonal get-togethers to the mix, and it’s no wonder that folks feel a little stressed.
So I propose that we think a little bit outside the gift box here. Let’s think of how we can help each other out. How can we bless each other this holiday season? First of all, let’s be more open about the struggles we’re facing. Let’s talk more about the things that make us feel stressed as well as the things that make us feel blessed. Sometimes, just talking about our burdens make them feel lighter. And if we open up to our friends, we might just find that the things and the abilities we have can balance out the places where they need a little help.
Be sure to check in with your friends. Are there areas where you can pool your resources and get more done together? For example, my family loves making tamales for the holidays, but if you don’t have a big family around you it can be a huge undertaking. So why not see if you can all get together and make tamales, or pies, or whatever holiday foods or crafts you need? Not only will the work go faster when more hands are involved, but you’ll have a chance to catch up with each other, laugh a little, and feel that stress level drop for a while.
Even if you can’t physically get together with your friends to make things, checking in via phone or text will give you and your friends a chance to bounce ideas around, recommend recipes or techniques, or just encourage each other.
If you’re on the other side of this issue, if you find yourself feeling lonely and adrift during the holidays, then you have a wonderful gift to bring: yourself. If you have friends who could use a little help getting ready for the holiday, open up to them too. They may have wanted to involve you but weren’t sure how to approach you.
Volunteering can be a great way to reach out to others during the holidays too, if you don’t have local friends who need a hand. And when you open up to being a blessing, you may be pleasantly surprised to find yourself feeling a little of that holiday joy you’ve been hearing about. In this season and beyond, let’s commit to reaching out and forming new memories and deeper connections.