In the weeks leading up to Christmas I feel both joyful and mildly unsettled. I don't think this is uncommon. Many of us love the festivities, food and fa-la-la-la-la, but also find Christmas exhausting and too commercial.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to banish Christmas burn-out. I suggest eliminating the activities that you don't enjoy or that are too time-consuming or expensive. Although I still love receiving Christmas cards, I promise I won't be upset if you don't send me one.
And then there are acts of goodwill. I don't mean to sound preachy, but if you have the means to help, now's the time to do it. I heard a couple of stories recently that reminded me that even here in Canada, in one of the world's richest nations, people go without the basics.
The first story came via my cousin who is an elementary schoolteacher in a mixed-income catchment area. She encouraged her students to bring food bank donations to class. When the pile of non-perishables was amassed, one under-nourished child was shocked and excited because it was more food than he had ever seen in one place at one time. My cousin rerouted all the donations to this child's home.
The second story is about an international university graduate student here from Africa who is due to have a baby on Christmas Day. With very few resources and no family support close-by, she was woefully unprepared. A group of her fellow students and professors quietly asked their friends and family to step up. She now has a superior place to live, enhanced care, and after a surprise baby shower last week, many of the things she'll need to help her care for her baby.
There are undoubtably countless more stories like these. And sure, there have been other stories in the news this year about people faking cancer for attention or money, and charities that have spent millions on their operating costs. The world isn't perfect. But rather than being jaded, why not investigate and discover legitimate and effective ways to donate your money or time? If you want some suggestions, some of my favourites are Feed Nova Scotia, Canadian Blood Services, Canadian Red Cross, Plan Canada, Camp Brigadoon, and Mount Saint Vincent University.
Happy holidays everyone, and may you enjoy peace and good health in 2012.