Covid and Celebrating Alone Changed My X-mas Giving
My little family lives out-of-state and I don't fly to be with them in the winter months…air travel delays and harsh weather make staying in my home much safer and more comfortable. So while I am very content knowing that they and I are well, I like to make an extra effort to send notes, make calls, and often share X-mas homemade cookies and candies with other "holiday alone" neighbors.
This year, due to Covid, instead of sharing homemade treats or birthday/X-mas gifts to be unwrapped with friends and neighbors, I am making donations to three of my favorite charities in honor and celebration of those other "loners". The charities send acknowledgements of the donations to the recipients and it cheers me to be offering more support to those who have less than I.
I learned years ago when tearfully watching my little girl board a flight to share a holiday with her dad that I could either be lonely and sad during that separation and my time alone or I could create a different approach to a holiday alone. Now, I plan ahead for my special meal, savor small indulgences and the lack of the hustle and bustle of preparations for company and treat myself in ways that couldn't happen otherwise. A day is whatever we choose to make it.
While I may resume sharing homemade treats with neighbors in the future, I plan to continue the charity donations in lieu of exchanging wrappable gifts with friends. Most of us have all we really need and there are so many who have so little. Whether celebrating the holidays with others or alone this year, I hope each person will find ways to add smiles to the coming days.
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@fiesty76, COVID definitely put a damper on us also. We normally love to shop for two children's charities – Operation Christmas Shoebox ministry by Franklin Graham and Toys for Tots by my Marine Corp friends. I was really pleased this year to find that they have an online method to donate shoeboxes with necessities and a toy, and the Toys for Tots has an easy to use drag and drop toys and gifts for all ages of children. It still takes a little of the joy away not being able to shop in person without worrying about COVID.
Normally my Christmas shopping starts after Thanksgiving, but this year I told my children I will not be going into stores. I ordered an excavator toy from Amazon for my grandson who is obsessed with heavy machineries right now, and will bring it over to them. We will be meeting in the garage driveway long enough for the little one to open the present. I will also make a contribution to my grandson's college fund. As for my children, they have everything they need and don't want anything. I make regular donations to St. Judes Children Hospital and this holiday I will make a bigger one.
My Christmas always revolves around cooking, baking and entertaining more than shopping and gift giving, so this is very hard for me. Cookie baking will be very limited this year, just for us and our kids. But I will still make traditional holiday breads in individual, disposable pans. When they cool, I will mask & glove, wrap them in pretty cellophane with a bow, and deliver to some neighbors.
Our pastor has already announced that Midnight Mass will be celebrated online – will make it much less lovely than usual, but we can do it! We'll just light our own candles and tree. We'll even ring our traditional bells.
Our kids and grandkids are certainly in the "have everything they need" category, so gifts are always one very special item that they definitely would not buy for themselves.
For the little boys, who are entranced with both real and pretend cooking, I have cobbled together a set of kids' cooking utensils, augmented by bits and pieces from around the house. It will be delivered in 2 small totes, with the tops decorated to look like a stovetop. In addition, they get a yearlong subscription to monthly, age appropriate activity crates, which they refer to as their "project boxes"; they just love to open and dive into the varied projects. They come from kiwi.com, if anyone is looking for ideas, and cover ages from 1 year to about 12.
For many years now, our Christmas has included donations to several charities that serve those in our immediate area.
My favorite is a drop in center and transitional housing for teens to 24 year olds who are working to get on their feet. Each year I gift them with McDonald's, Walmart, Target & grocery gift cards for Christmas, as well as monthly support throughout the year. I found them after we were absolutely stunned one year when, during the annual homeless census, my daughter found 43 kids in just her (suburban) high school who had no idea where they would sleep that night – either kids where the whole family was homeless, or kids who had aged out of foster care but were still in school, or the kids I must sadly called "throwaways", whose families had abandoned them. One boy rode three busses 40 miles (2 1/2 hours each way) every morning and evening to his Grandma's house so he could finish his senior year with his classmates.
Our other main holiday celebration is a crab boil with our 4 best friends on New Years' Eve – we have done it for almost 40 years without a miss! So we have been talking about watching the weather and figuring out a day we can do it outdoors – crazy, but it just might work! Maybe dessert will be our traditional cheesecake – just frozen on a stick.
2 of my favorite charities. I love the work Franklin Graham does in so many areas. His father and my father were college roommates and we followed and got to know the family slightly. What a family. What a gift Franklin is to the world. I just read fiesty76 and love what she's doing this year. I'm joining both of you!
Sue, what a hoot! Love all your ideas and traditions. Good people. It looks like I'm joining you in a couple of your ideas as well as John and Fiesty76. Beth
While I have supported several charities for years, this year's "add-ons" in lieu of homemade treats is a big change for me because like you, Sue, my best spirit of Christmas traditionally is found in the kitchen preparing once/year confections to share with others.
When our 2 older grands graduated college, I stopped the fun X-mas Eve tradition of giving each of the 4 grands a new tree ornament to unwrap. Instead I began sending donations in their names to the world-wide charity (whose name I can't recall at the moment..Heifer?/??) in which a specific farm animal could be purchased for a village. The first year,I remember the fun I had selecting small "like" …goat, chicken, pig….animals for each child to hang on the tree. Later and still continue, I changed that to a donation in honor of the grands to a nearby Boys and Girls Ranch.
I stopped buying wrappable gifts for the grands years ago and began observing their birthdays and X-mas with stock contributions. Our children received so many gifts and could rarely remember from one year to the next what they'd received. Now, even the 10 yr old is learning more about investments and the thrill of watching his money grow. The 15 yr old recently asked if I might consider allowing him to sell some shares to put toward a car…you can imagine my laughing response….never hurts to try, yes?
On a trip to DisneyWorld when this same fella' was about 6 or 7, the lines waiting for one ride were long and tired of waiting, he told his parents that they should be allowed to go to the first of the line since "he owned Disney". The memory still brings a smile.