To Make A Difference

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” Mother Teresa

“We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.”             Mother Teresa


I’ve  been thinking a lot about a conversation my daughter and I had a couple of weeks ago.  She made the comment about having a “dysfunctional” childhood – which made me laugh and respond, “Everyone had a dysfunctional childhood…no perfect lives out there.”  She laughed and said, “that’s probably true” and we dropped the topic.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about it, especially with Thanksgiving looming and then Christmas/Hanukkah/ New Years soon afterwards.  This next month and a half is one of expectations, aspirations, hopes ,despair, depression or panic.  (“it’s the most wonderful time of the year”).

I hear so many people focusing on the decorations, the gift buying, the cookie baking, the parties/dinners, various holiday activities, etc.  The magazines/tv/pinterest/facebook, catalogs all add fuel to this madness.  They bombard us with how to have the “perfect holiday”, the “perfect meal”, the “perfect party”…and you know, most often it falls short.  We are being subjected by media from all directions to buy, buy, buy…causing our children to become brainwashed to needing the most expensive new products.  The foods we tend to eat are over sweet or over rich and too much of it.

I have been questioning this madness for years…many years.  I started asking myself some serious questions and thought maybe you might like asking them of yourself as well:

a.” what do I really want and need from the holiday? ” (I found that I didn’t need to do many of the things I thought I “needed” from the holiday.  What I derived joy from were simple things…making the cemetary wreath and house wreath early in December …a solitary task that I learned from my Dad; realizing that I didn’t need to bake a storm…if I bake my Dad’s holiday bread recipe, I’m content.  My husband and daughter get one request each for what they “really, really  need to have in food”; the tree doesn’t have to be massive…it’s the special ornaments and the lights; candles; and music.)

b. “I know we’ve always done it this way but it no longer brings joy…what can be done to make it more joyful?”  Sit and think about your whole holiday routine…what parts of it are a real hassle/pain?  What areas just don’t make sense anymore?  What can you simplify?  What can you eliminate?

c. “How can I make someone else’s life better?”  (suggestions may be visit elderly who have no family close by, help out/give needed supplies to a local animal shelter, contact the homeless shelter and ask what they need, contact the local food bank and ask what they need, toy drives, coat drives, food drives.  Talk to others and ask them to join you in this venture.

Churches usually know of families who are struggling.  “Adopt” a family and bring food/toys/clothing.  It can be anonymous and your whole family can partake in this activity…involve your children early and make them a part of the entire process.

Elderly neighbors, homebound, lonely widows/widowers, someone with no family closeby…

If you belong to a group and you have a Holiday function where you normally buy a “token” gift, forego the gift and have everyone donate the money for one of the ideas above.

d. Rethink how much you spend for family members.  Have a family meeting early and discuss what you would like to do instead.

You can make a difference for someone else’s Christmas.  It’s still early enough to talk to your family, friends, organizations you belong to and direct your thoughts, ideas and money elsewhere.  You can still have the parties…just downsize it a bit and you will make someone else’s holiday a lot brighter.  You never know how great a difference you can make in someone’s life…the child who wouldn’t have had anything for Christmas, the individual who wouldn’t have had anything special to eat, the individual who didn’t have a warm coat, the animals who wouldn’t have had food or warmth and the individual who felt totally alone and unloved.

All I ask is that you think about this…if each of us just does something, what a difference it would make.

PS: please contribute any ideas you have…I know my list is by no means a complete one.  Thank you!

til next time…Eva



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