My children will be on a week-long vacation with their Dad during Christmas week. I have no family close by and was feeling a bit sorry for myself at the prospect of spending Christmas alone and isolated. That is until I realize that this is the season for giving and what better way to help me celebrate Christmas and be connected with others than to do for others.
If you are going through a divorce or feeling isolated after divorce like me stay connected with others by doing something for others. It will get your mind off your own problems!
At no other time of the year is it more important to give of yourself than during the holidays. And, who knows, you may love the experience so much that you want to do it year round.
So, instead of sitting home alone on Christmas and reflecting on the fact that you are single or alone check out the suggestions below and, get outside your own problems.
How to give of yourself this Christmas.
1. Volunteer in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.
According to the National Alliance of Homelessness, “About 57,000 or 9% of all homeless persons are veterans. A survey of 29 cities in the United States found the homeless population to increase by 6% from the previous year. The same report found that 26% of homeless adults suffered from some form of mental illness.”
In other words, there is much help needed by those who are homeless due to lack of income or mental illness. And, you are in a great position to give of your time and open your heart by helping at your local soup kitchen during Christmas.
Can you image anything lonelier than not having a home to go to or a meal to eat during the holidays? Yes, divorce and a drastic change in lifestyle can cause loneliness and pain but, when compared to what the homeless live with on a daily basis it can seem inconsequential.
If you can chop and cook food, serve food and wash-up afterward and, more importantly, show kindness and concern for those who have less, you are needed.
2. Visit a local nursing home.
When my children were small we did this at least 4 times a year. All we had to do was walk down the halls of the nursing. Elderly eyes would light up, arms would go out and hugs would be given. Have you ever been to a nursing home? The halls are lined with elderly people standing and in wheelchairs eager for visitors and attention.
Call a local nursing home and speak with the activities director. Ask about their Christmas activity schedule and let them know you wish to volunteer. You won’t be turned away! And, you will develop a deeper appreciation of the love the elderly in our country have to offer.
3. Trade shifts with a co-worker.
Do you have a co-worker with children who is scheduled to work on Christmas day? Trade shifts with them so their children can have Mom or Dad home for the day. My mother was a dietician. Once her children were grown and gone she would take over the shift of one of her kitchen workers so they could be home with their children.
One year she spent Christmas day washing dishes so her minimum wage earning dishwasher could be home with his family. Do it, it’s a great way to give of yourself and earn the good favor of co-workers.
4. Adopt a family for the holidays.
Locally we have an organization called, The Children’s Advocacy Center’s Adopt A Family. I’m sure there is a chapter in your area also. You can also contact Coalition for The Homeless if you wish to help a family in need. The first Christmas after my divorce we had a young girl of five spend the week of Christmas in our home. Her mother was in the hospital and there were no relatives to take her in so she came to share the holiday with our family.
She had a velvety holiday dress that her mother had purchased from Goodwill and a secondhand pair of black, high top tennis shoes. Within 10 minutes of her entering my home, I was no longer feeling sorry for myself and my lot in life. Doing for Grace that year has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. I’m sure she has long forgotten but, I never will.
Open your home and your heart to a child or family. Like myself, you may find that although life is not great right now, it could be worse.
5. Visit volunteermatch.org.
What a fantastic website! Not only will it give you listings of organizations who need help in your area, but you can also find organizations throughout the United States. If you want to get out of town for the holidays but do something worthwhile with your time, take a volunteer trip.
You can work with animals, children and youth, education and literacy programs, those who are homeless and need of housing and environmental programs. As the website says, volunteer in whatever area matters to you, wherever you wish.
Stay close to home or, if need be, get away from hurtful memories and connect with people and organizations in need.
If this is your first post-divorce holiday and the pain seems insurmountable, it will pass. Be patient with yourself, get outside of yourself and use distractions to keep your mind off the loneliness and emotional pain.