Christmas is behind us for another year. ~frown~ If you are anything like me, the few days following Christmas are a bit of a letdown. We shop, plan, decorate, and attend parties all season, and then suddenly it is all over. The winter weather prior to Christmas seems endearing and festive, but December 26th – March 21st is a dreaded time of year for many.
However, I think cold weather gives us an excuse to do some incredibly heart-warming acts of kindness! We can reach out to others during this gloomy period of the year, and be little bits of sunshine for a lonely and despairing world.
When the body is cold, warm the heart. Here are a few ideas for bringing a little balminess to a frosty world:
- Collect coats for a coat drive. We bundle up and scurry to our cars, turn on the heat, get to our destinations, and swiftly run inside. Those few moments of intense cold make some of us feel crazy. I love my heating pad and use it all winter season to warm up, not to mention the toe warmer pad at the edge of the bed. But, do I really know what it is like to be cold? Like, really cold? Cold as a way of life with little relief in sight? I do not. But, I have at least a half a dozen coats in my closest I do not wear anymore. They could bless someone who stays chilled to the bone for much of the year. Look through your closets, basements, and spare rooms. Do you have some coats, gloves, scarves, or boots you do not use anymore? Consider how much those items might bless someone else.
- Visit someone lonely and bring a gift. Do we really ever outgrow the excitement of a present? Even if Gift-Giving is not our love language, there is still a child inside of us who perks up when we see our name on the outside of a wrapped package. Is there someone God has lain on your heart who lives alone or in a retirement home? Someone who needs attention? It may seem awkward at first, but what a bright spot you will bring to his or her day! That payoff is worth some mild discomfort. And, who would not appreciate a small gift? Mom visits a few ladies in a nursing home, and if she misses a week, they ask her about it. ~smile~ It just goes to show how much they look forward to visitors.
- Pass out stuffed animals to little people who need a smile. This one makes me particularly giddy as I love stuffed animals. Mom told me I would outgrow them, but it has not happened yet. Eric often brings me stuffed animal souvenirs from his various business trip destinations; and, unlike many women my age, I would jump up and down at the sight of a giant teddy bear under the Christmas tree. ~smile~ Therefore, I believe in the power of cuddly creatures. I think they bring comfort and they soak in familiar smells. For children who have little to call their own – who feel a complete lack of stability – something as small as a stuffed animal can make a huge difference. A piece of home they can take with them anywhere they go.
- Offer someone an opportunity. Do you have connections which may help a hard worker find employment? Do you have the ability to send someone to a camp or a class to learn a skill? Maybe pay for music lessons? If you are not in a financial position to pay for opportunities, is there something you can teach? Can you invite neighborhood kids over and teach them to cook, plant flowers, or learn a useful craft? My neighbor gave me the simple gift of seeing a different way of life and that helped open up my world.
- Video a grandparent as a gift to his or her family. We video our little people constantly. Kids today get more pictures taken of them in a weekend than we 80s kids got in our first five years of life. It is so easy to take pictures and videos now. We want to capture every cute face and funny comment. With all this technology available to us, why not use it to document the amazing lives of those who have gone before She is gone now, but if someone had videoed my grandma telling some of her stories, giving us a personal message, and telling us how much she loved us, I would treasure it… always. Consider interviewing some elderly folks, taping them (with their consent of course), and giving the final product to their families as a keepsake. Help preserve some of their family history.
- Find someone colder than you. Buy a big, fluffy blanket. Similar to the coat drive suggestion, find some blankets you do not use much and give them to a person who needs a few more layers. Additionally, you can purchase some warm blankets and pass them out. Remember to do this with the right motivation. Even if the people who receive your gifts do not appear appreciative, remember you are doing this to honor God and not to gain accolades for yourself. (I have to remember this when I am not thanked for doing kind deeds; it makes me examine my underlying motivations.)
- Write a warm note to everyone you love. Looking your loved ones in their eyes and telling them how much they mean to you may seem incredibly awkward. Some families are very open while others are quite reserved. Sometimes writing your feelings is easier – and easier for others to digest. Not only that, but they can revisit your notes years later when they need a pick-me-up. So, write a special note to each person you love. Randomly mail them. Once a week, send one of the letters. Tell your loved one how much you love and are thinking of him or her. Even if you never hear a response, know that you brought warmth to their hearts. All that matters is that you are honest and sincere.
- Paint with someone. Bring bright colors to the gloomy season. My sister-in-law attends something called Paint Night in her city and it appears to be a blast. Someone as artistically-challenged as me can, theoretically, sit down with a canvas, watch a teacher, and learn how to paint a specific scene. It sounds like the perfect winter activity because colors brighten the room and the heart. Gray skies are de-motivating (at least to me); but, entering a room filled with happy colors puts a glow in my heart. ~smile~ Whether it is a paint class, a paint night, pottery painting, or a paint by number, give a friend the therapeutic gift of color this season.
- Read the Bible to someone visually impaired, elderly, or someone who just needs attention. Or sing praise songs with them. Sometimes when conversations run dry, Mom will read the Bible to one of the ladies she visits in the nursing home. This precious lady has served God her entire adult life, and I am sure hearing His precious Word brings her comfort in her last days. If you are comfortable singing, sing a few hymns or worship songs with them as well.
- Warm a heart with a smile and touch. There are so many lonely people. Even if you are in a rush, you can find the time to smile. When a loved one of mine was in the hospital a few years ago, there was a nurse on her hall I simply adored. She had a smile and positive attitude that put us at peace immediately. A friend of mine is a pediatric nurse, and she also has a contagious smile that brings instant comfort to her patients and their families. You can brighten a stranger’s day simply by radiating warmth and kindness. Many are starved for physical touch. A brief hand on the shoulder or handshake can make a difference as well.
Christmas may be over, but we still have three months of winter cheer to spread around. Keep thinking of ways to bring warmth to a cold, discouraged world. You may even be sorry to see the winter go. ~smile~
How will you bless someone this Winter?