“It’s beginning to look a lot like CHRISTMAS… everywhere you go!”
This song brings back so many memories for me. Growing up, Christmas was always such a big deal. My mother made sure all the ornaments were hung perfectly on the Christmas tree that only she decorated while my sister and I watched and marveled at her work. The house was always full of decorations and Christmas music started right before Thanksgiving up until Eastern Orthodox Christmas on January 7th.
I have so many fond memories of Christmas gatherings at our house. There would be delicious food that took days of preparation and my mother with my aunts and their friends cooking together on our deck in the freezing December weather. If you are Habesha you’ll understand why they did/do that LOL. I remember laughter all around the house, family getting together, and cousins playing. Even after my parents divorced, my mother was determined to keep the same traditions. This was all pre-COVID, when we could freely meet with relatives, travel, spend time together with the people we love.
Normally, my holiday blog post includes updates on Operation Give NOT Receive, something I started with the family 3 years ago to teach my children the real reason of Christmas. I wanted to fill their hearts with the spirit of giving. (Read all about Operation Give Not Receive here and here.)
This year sadly, due to COVID, we couldn’t travel home or send supplies like we would have in the past. I wanted to keep the tradition alive, so I started thinking of different ways we can give back right here in our community while still staying COVID-safe.
Here are 3 ideas:
- Donate to your local churches.
How about this year instead of getting gifts, you saved that money and donated it to your local church? Where I live, Medhanie Alem Parish, the Eritrean Catholic Church in Annandale, VA, is working hard to help families during and after this holiday season. Feel free to contact me via email for more information.
- Make care packages for different homeless shelters.
Give to the local homeless shelters by creating care packages with socks, masks, blankets, soap bars, baby wipes, hand sanitizers, gloves, pads, underwear, and toys for children. One creative way to give back to mothers would be to gather up your old bags and include all the above items so that that mother can get a new bag and have different necessity items as well. If you’re not sure where to find a local shelter to support, search online for “homeless shelters near me” and check out information on the shelters that come up.
- Donate time and/or money to your local food bank.
All food bank locations are being extra careful to keep both their volunteers and those they feed safe during this pandemic. That being said though, there are still multiple ways the entire family can help. If you’re not sure about where a local food bank is, do an online search for “food banks near me” and then check out the websites to sign up for opportunities and find out where to donate.
I love the habit of gratitude because it reminds us of all we have instead of thinking of what we lack. One thing I started asking my family and clients: “Tell me two things you are grateful for” — it was amazing to see what came up.
With the children, I do it every morning before sending them to school. With my clients, it’s after a workout or life coaching session. This holiday season, one thing I will be doing with my family is having them write down what they are grateful for every night at the dinner table and putting it in a jar. Then either on Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve, we will read all the notes together. It’s something fun for us to do as a family and it makes us thankful for all our blessings.
I hope this blog helps you or someone you know. As always I’d love to hear from you. What holiday traditions will you be starting this year that are COVID-safe?