Beyond the Wish List

Beyond the Wish List

By Cezanne Colvin

With the outdoors feeling chilly enough to preserve Thanksgiving dinner leftovers and daylight seeming to last as long as the latest fad toy (Silly Bandz, anyone?), the holiday season is officially upon us.

Although we look forward to the holidays, we inevitably get caught up in the draining and dizzying winter waltz of entertaining, cooking and shopping. Before we know it, the holidays have come and gone, often before we’ve even had the chance to celebrate the true spirit of the holidays. This year, instead of asking the question, “What’d you get?”, we should focus on “What did I give?”

Here are some ideas to infuse giving back into your winter routine and hail the holiday spirit.

Practice random acts of kindness

No act of kindness is too small. Regardless of your budget, there’s always something you can do for someone who least expects it: Pay for the toll or cup of coffee for the person behind you, leave a generous tip when you go out to eat, shovel your neighbor’s driveway, or give away your parking spot. Your spontaneous selflessness might make their day, and even better, it might inspire them to do the same for someone else.

Write to our soldiers

Wish past or present soldiers happy holidays through A Million Thanks, an organization that helps show our appreciation for the men and women who serve our country. Many of our soldiers have spent their holidays without their families and would welcome your expression of gratitude and holiday cheer.

Visit amillionthanks.org/index.php for more information.

Foster an animal in need

Your little ones have been begging for a pet for Christmas, but the idea of a two-decade long commitment is a little too much to add to your plate. If you’re able, a happy medium might be to foster an animal in need of a temporary home to prevent shelter overcrowding, give newborns a healthy start, or provide a peaceful environment for aging or recovering pets until they are adopted. The Allentown Peaceable Kingdom offers veterinary care and assistance with supplies if necessary.

Visit lvpeaceablekingdom.info for more information.

Create a Holiday Hope Chest

Take an afternoon to transform a shoe box into a trunk of treasures for an underprivileged child. Every year, individuals and businesses in the Lehigh Valley stuff shoe boxes full of goodies and adorn with wrapping paper to help ensure more children have the opportunity to experience the excitement of opening a gift that’s
all their own.

Visit volunteerlv.org/events/holiday-hope-chests.asp for more information.

Don’t leave anyone off your holiday card list

As you’re writing your holiday cards, don’t forget about the waitress at your favorite restaurant, the mailman, the barista who has your drink halfway made by the time you walk up to the register, or the dry cleaner who saved your favorite shirt (twice). Be sure to let these important people know that you appreciate how they’ve taken care of you throughout the year.

Visit a nursing home

An estimated 50-60% of nursing home residents receive no visitors, a staggering reminder of how lucky most of us are to be surrounded by those we love during the holidays. Take the time to visit a local nursing home in your community – bring a card or gift, play a card or board game, or maybe just offer an ear to hear the amazing stories they no doubt have to share.

Leave your door open

A recent death in the family, divorce or financial constraints may have left a friend, neighbor or co-worker without anywhere to go for the holidays. If you know anyone who may find themselves in such a situation, invite them to celebrate with your family. As with any family activity, when it comes to decorating, baking, exchanging gifts, (and cleaning!), the more the merrier.

Give a pair of pajamas and book to a child in need

A fond memory for most of us was putting on our favorite pair of pajamas, getting tucked in, and read to. Unfortunately, many children don’t have that luxury. They have never been tucked in or read to by a mother or father, and they are currently waiting to be adopted. This year, help them make their own memories by donating a pair of pajamas and a bedtime story book.

Visit pajamaprogram.org for more information.

Pick shopping destinations that contribute to causes and charities

Whether it’s dreaded or eagerly anticipated, shopping is undoubtedly a part of your holiday routine. Whenever possible, choose local vendors who give back some of what they earn, like the Star and Candle Shoppe at the Central Moravian Church. The Shoppe offers unique hand-crafted gifts and Moravian items, including Moravian stars, folded German stars, handmade jewelry, and greeting cards. Proceeds benefit the Central Moravian Church’s work in Tanzania, East Africa and Nepal, as well as the Christopher Scott Seifert Fund for Christian Education.

Visit centralmoravianchurch.org/mc-events/star-candle-shoppe-4/ for more information.

Give back to Mother Nature

While you may not be ready to whittle away at your shower time or ride your bike everywhere, you can still make choices everyday that will have a positive impact and even save you money in the long run! Some ideas include conserving energy by turning off lights and unplugging electronics that aren’t in use, bringing your own bags to the grocery store, bringing reusable travel mugs to coffee shops, and supporting local farmers whenever possible. Together, we can help keep the earth healthy so our children and our children’s children can enjoy their holidays on this planet too.

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