There’s a holiday feeling in the air, and it has little to do with the commercialization of the season. In fact, research shows that close to nine in 10 Americans believe that the holidays should be more about family and caring for others than giving and receiving gifts (www.newdream.org).
When you reflect on your childhood, it is likely that your most precious holiday memories are not of gifts you received — you may not even remember a single one. But most of us have vivid childhood memories of family gatherings at grandma’s house, baking holiday treats and sharing other time-honored traditions. No matter what we celebrate, it is the time spent with loved ones that is central to our fondest holiday memories.
We often say that kids spell love T-I-M-E, but they aren’t the only ones who equate love and caring with time. We all appreciate the gift of time. For some, that may mean time shared with others and for some it may be a little more time for themselves.
If you want to give more of what matters this holiday season — not just more stuff —here are some suggestions of how you can give the gift of time:
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• Many seniors in our community reside in assisted-living facilities. Staff would be happy to introduce you to someone who would enjoy a visit. A visit from your pet might also be welcome.
• Holidays can be challenging for seniors who live alone. Make a date to spend an evening at the home of a senior, sharing a meal, helping them decorate or just visiting.
• Don’t forget about caregivers. If someone you know is caring for a relative with disabilities, give them the gift of an afternoon on their own to do some holiday errands while you take over their duties.
• If you know someone who is undergoing medical treatment, ask if there is a way you can be helpful. Would some meals over the holidays be welcome? Are there other things such as baby-sitting or pet-sitting that would help?
• Give a child in your life the gift of yourself, and encourage close friends and family to do the same. There are few thing children appreciate more than the undivided attention of a caring adult. Work on a puzzle, play cards or go to the library. Children care more about time spentwith them
than money spenton them
• Round up a group of kids for some winter fun — sledding, skating, snowman-building. While giving the children time with you and their friends, you will be giving their parents the gift of a few hours to themselves.
• Contact the Community Help Centre at 237-5855 for suggestions on where volunteers are needed over the holidays. Global Connections (863-3927) may be able to connect you with an international student unable to travel home for the holidays who might welcome an invitation to your home.
For other ideas on how to have more fun with less stuff this season, check The Center for a New American Dream ( www.newdream.org).