Ah, the holidays.
In spite of — and because of — great expectations for magical perfection, it’s a time of year when it’s painfully obvious if things aren’t going right. Travel delays, difficult in-laws, financial hardships, loneliness, physical ailments, personal losses, a full-blown case of the winter blues.
One way to deal is to gripe about the holidays until January 2. Or grin and bear it for the sake of everyone around you. Or — this may sound counterintuitive — you could help someone else get unstuck from their holiday doldrums.
In essence, the holidays are about goodwill. And that often occurs as a result of extending it. Just imagine: A kind act from you might be the thing that jump-starts someone’s holiday spirit, and that might jump-start yours. Here are 15 ideas you could try.
Before you begin: Take a moment to pay attention to the people around you. How are they doing? What kinds of things are they going through?
15 WAYS TO SPREAD GOODWILL
1. Bring cookies or hot chocolate to someone who could use a dash of warmth and thoughtfulness.
2. Forgive a disappointment. Let go of a grudge.
3. Give out compliments like they’re free. (Because they are!) An unexpected confidence boost can go a long way.
4. Check in on an elderly neighbor — help with errands by picking up food, medication, mail.
5. Help someone put up and/or take down their holiday decorations — especially those ever-tangled lights.
6. Invite friends who don’t have family nearby to join you and yours.
7. Invite someone who might be spending a lot of time alone to dinner. Or a movie. Or just out and about.
9. Listen to someone who’s going through a rough patch. Let them know it’s okay to not to be all jolly and sparkly about the holidays.
10. If you know someone who has recently lost a loved one, share your memories with them. It could be a special activity to honor the remembrance or as quiet and unintrusive as a handwritten card.
11. The holidays can be a complicated mix of social customs, religious beliefs, and cultural backgrounds. Invent a new tradition so you can bring people together without anyone feeling like an outsider.
12. Offer to take on one to-do on a stressed-out holiday host’s checklist.
13. If you’re the host of a big bash and the party’s over, donate the decorations to a local community center or nursing home.
14. Send a love letter to someone who could really use one (www.moreloveletters.com).
15. Give someone your seat, or perform some other random act of kindness for a stranger or a friend.
Last but not least: Remember what’s important and don’t forget to take care of yourself.