The Holidays are Not Always Happy

But there are ways to help make them better

Donations sit in boxes at a warehouse in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. )

(Rick Hartford/Hartford Courant/MCT - with permission)

Donations sit in boxes at a warehouse in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. )

Sophia Gendreau, Contributor

As the holiday season arrives, so does stress. And, a lot of people are not as happy as you would hope. They might have a cloud of thoughts hanging over them, thoughts like, “Is there enough money; is there enough time; is there enough food; and will it be warm enough in the house?’ But, there are things we can do to help them, even if just a kind word.

According to University of California, Davis Center for Poverty Research, in 2013, 45 million people in the U.S. are living in poverty. That is a lot of people that don’t have money for gifts. People would like to give presents to show their love and thoughtfulness during the holidays, but some just can’t afford to.

Before Christmas, many children and teens write lists detailing each expensive gift they want, maybe the newest style of shoe, or the  “as seen on TV” toy. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends feel pressured into buying each of these things so as not to disappoint the most important people in their life, but sometimes people can’t afford all of these things. To help people who can’t give gifts as easily, there are numerous donation drives to give to, like Toys for Tots (a U.S. Marine Corps Reserves supported donation drive that provides toys for children in need), Soldiers’ Secret Santa or the Salvation Army (a Christian charity that provides a variety of services to people in need), and each item you donate will be given to those who can’t afford to buy expensive clothing and toys. Imagine the surprise and look of excitement on a young child’s face when they receive a wrapped present to open, perhaps for the very first time in their life.

Doug Griswold illustration of Christmas tree ornaments, one a foreclosed house, one a foreclosed bank, one a moved factory and the last being a happy home with a family around the Christmas tree visible inside. San Jose Mercury News 2009
Doug Griswold illustration of Christmas tree ornaments, one a foreclosed house, one a foreclosed bank, one a moved factory and the last being a happy home with a family around the Christmas tree visible inside. San Jose Mercury News 2009

The holiday season coincides with winter season when it gets particularly cold here in the northeast. Some people can’t afford the high cost of heating a home. One thing people can do is donate clothing and coats. Schools have coat drives and most towns have at least one clothing donation bin set up. Each school in Abington has a clothing donation bin. And, there are donation bins from St. Vincent de Paul at St. Bridget’s School. Coats for Kids is another good choice.

Food is another constant worry for some families. In Abington, the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank at St. Bridget’s is the place to donate non-perishable food items. The Boy Scouts do Scouting for Food, where they drive around, handing out donation bags that you can fill with boxed foods like macaroni and cheese, or canned foods which they will pick up the following week. Just by giving your extra food that you know you won’t eat, you can feed someone a meal, and maybe save a life.

Just being kind to someone while out shopping can go a long way too.”

— Sophia Gendreau

Stress and grief during the holidays is not just for people who can’t afford presents. There are some who are sad just because they have nobody to spend their time with, and depression can run high during this time of year. Doing things like caroling in senior neighborhoods, visiting nursing homes, or volunteering at hospitals to talk to those who can’t go home makes a huge difference in someone’s life. Just being kind to someone while out shopping can go a long way too. Not trampling someone to get Ugg boots or North Face jackets on Black Friday, or refraining from screaming at a manager, when he can’t get you what you want, will make everything a lot more pleasant for everyone.

The holidays are really about rejoicing with family, friends, and loved ones; celebrating life, and giving back, whether you celebrate religiously or not. When out shopping, be kind to those working and those around you, and don’t just walk by the Toys for Tots bin saying, “Wow everyone is so generous.” Maybe you could donate some toys. Spread the holiday spirit in any way possible. Even the littlest effort can make a huge difference. You don’t have to dedicate hours of your time or hundreds of dollars, maybe just give a dollar to a supermarket Santa.

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