Hot cider. Homemade treats. Music in the air. A dusting of snow. A bright lit tree. The giggles of children. The lighting of the candles. The carving of the meat. The scents and sounds of the holiday season lunge and linger.
Yet for some, the holidays are painful.
The celebrations are reminders of not just who is there… but who is not.
The gatherings are reminders of not just what you have… but what you don’t.
The moments are reminders of not just what you’ve gained… but what you’ve lost.
You have people in your life, right now, of those who walk among the fellowship of the afflicted. You may be among them. I describe this in Fight Back With Joy.
Maybe you received the news of the diagnosis.
Faced an ongoing struggle with infertility.
Suffered through a painful miscarriage.
Received the crushing financial blow.
Discovered your spouse wasn’t being true.
Experienced a freak accident.
Had someone take something from you that you’ll never get back.
Or something worse.
For some these holidays—Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas—bring tears.
The spouse is gone.
The empty seat at the table is a place of pain.
The bank is threatening to take your house.
The loved one died far too early, far too young.
The kids keep asking, “Where’s dad?” or “Where’s mom?”
The Alzheimer’s keeps getting worse.
The hospital is a lousy way to spend the holidays.
The bail bond got you out, but not out of the mess.
The bank accounts are below empty.
The cabinets sit bare.
Yet you, yes you, can be someone who helps heal broken hearts this holiday season. Here are 5 ways to be a holiday balm to the hurting.
1. Speak the person’s name. If someone you know has lost a loved one, the holidays can be particularly difficult. One of the most powerful words you can speak is the person’s name. Say, “I miss James, too.” Or “I miss Kelly, too.” The acknowledgement can mean the world. And if you have a funny story about the person or warm memory, share it. “I still remember the year Matt wore that silly reindeer hat and made us all laugh with his imitations.”
2. Deliver dinner. You don’t need to wait until an official holiday to deliver a meal. You can take one tonight or tomorrow. Ask about food allergies/preferences. If that’s too much on your calendar, pick up a gift card to their favorite restaurant. Let them have the joy of ordering a meal in.
3. Send something other than a Christmas card. During years where there’s been heavy pain and loss, thumbing through a stack of Christmas cards of perfect-looking people with images of extravagant vacations and lists of achievements can be heavy on the heart. Instead, send life-giving cards.
A few years ago I started to browse through greeting card aisles, wondering how hard it really was to find a well-written card. Few to none of the cards were written for people with ongoing crisis, loss or adversity, and those available were wah-wah.
So I worked with an artist to create modern, bright n’ beautiful designs. You can choose from three 8-packs of cards, designed to encourage and inspire. All are designed to equip you to help those facing tough times fight back with joy.
Inside: If only you could see what I see when I look at you. You’d be WONDERSTRUCK.
Or you can serve the person with the Tell Me What You Need Card.
4. Look to serve. Much like the purpose of the Tell Me What You Need Cards, you can look for specific ways to help. Shovel the driveway. Bring packages in. Offer to put up the Christmas tree. Offer to care for the kids for an evening. Small acts of service can be a source of great love.
5. Listen. Ask the question, “What’s it like for you this holiday season?” then just sit and listen. All the person to talk, to be honest, to share…without trying to fix the other person. You may just be giving the gift that’s most needed.