Even when we're not socializing, there are ways to serve and encourage others.
Sometimes it feels like every normal moment in life has been ruined by the pandemic. When I start focusing on how different life is now than it was just a year ago, I feel quickly frustrated. But I try to shake those thoughts off and focus on what is possible right now. For some reason, we are living through these times now, and not some other era. So, what can we do to make our corner of life a little more loving and a little less isolated this holiday season?
Let’s not forget hospitality. There are so many people feeling strange and disconnected in our communities. And if like me, you are one of them sometimes, then know that the best way to get connected is to serve someone else. Here are a few ideas on how to do that despite the unique challenges we face with COVID-19 …
Serve your neighbors
If you know who on your block or in your apartment building might need a little more help, start there. Maybe that means bringing a few grocery items to the couple down the street with the new baby, or bringing a frozen meal to the older gentleman one floor below who always holds the elevator door for people. If you’re not sure where to start, consider making some bags of Christmas treats and delivering them door to door, perhaps leaving them in mailboxes. If you live in a cold area, shovel other people’s driveways and sidewalks as well as your own.
Send care packages or groceries to someone who lives far away
You can set up a grocery pick up at a store close to them, or use a delivery service. And who doesn’t love receiving an unexpected package with treats inside? Treats need not be food related. A pair of fun socks, a stick of lip balm, some coffee beans, and a handwritten note make for a cozy surprise.
Also, this is not the year to skip sending Christmas cards. If finances are tight, you can get creative with a video card or a “my year in a nutshell with lots of pictures” email.
Find ways to volunteer from home. Or if you are low-risk, find ways to volunteer at sites that may be lacking their usual help.
Often, organizations depend on volunteers who are retired to help them. Unfortunately, many of those volunteers are now at high-risk and unable to help as they used to do. If you have a flexible schedule, consider working in some hours to help volunteer-run organizations in your area stay afloat. If you don’t know where to start, try checking with your parish to see if they need help or if they know of nonprofits in the area that are struggling.
Get together with people safely
Who in your life might be more isolated and have less community supporting them? There are many ways you can get creative so that you can still meet up, even face to face. A front porch Starbucks to-go coffee date, bundled up and masked, is far better than not reaching out.
Consider a “beekeeper’s outfit” night, where you invite a couple people over and you all wear head to toe coverings and watch a movie together.
Are there family members or friends you should video chat with but you don’t because it isn’t fun or takes too long? Those are probably the people you should reach out more to, not less.
It’s not always obvious who is struggling, so if you ever wonder whether you should reach out to someone, just do it. For example, think about anyone who has lost a loved one this year, and make it a point to talk to them this month, as they experience the holidays in what is already a challenging year.
For a little inspiration, let’s look to St. Corona. She died because she tried to help encourage a fellow Christian, so let’s ask her intercession to help us reach out to those who need extra encouragement this holiday season!