In the late sixties, my family moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming. My brother and I arrived at our new school in the middle of an outbreak of strep throat, also known as streptococcus. The outbreak was severe. They began weekly throat cultures on every student and sending anyone home who tested positive.
My brother was sent home several weeks in a row after testing positive for strep throat, although showing no symptoms. My eleven-year-old logic deduced something amiss and was quite irritated about this unfair development. It turned out he was a strep throat carrier, a problem at a school with a significant outbreak. I don’t recall that he was bothered by the opportunity to go home and play. I also can’t recall how this situation resolved itself except that he eventually landed back in school five days a week, a fairer situation to my way of thinking.
Over time my brother developed into a different kind of carrier. Today he carries the Santa gene. You may know someone who plays Santa every year in some way. This year we all need to step into a Santa suit.
My brother surprised me recently, sharing that in December he starts handing out socks to homeless people in the city where he lives. He hands out packages of socks to individuals living on the street, drops them off at shelters and even police stations since they may see folks he will miss. Many are excited to receive the socks, some are repeat receivers, and occasionally someone turns the offer down.
He surprised me more when he described purchasing 1,000 socks for his upcoming deliveries. To put this in perspective, my brother is not someone who has extra cash lying around. So, he researched and found a better deal online this year. While it’s a stretch for his pocketbook, it is truly a gift of love and respect.
When I asked him why he chose socks, he reminded me that most of us don’t get rid of socks till they are too old worn to be donated. I now have a new nickname for my brother; he’s Santa Socks.
How can you be a Santa to someone this year?
You probably don’t have to look too far to find someone, maybe someone down the street or at your place of work. And you don’t have to spend significant sums of money.
Even the smallest gesture could make a difference for someone struggling this year. Holidays are traditionally treacherous, leading to despair for some. Despair leads to the dangers of depression.
This year, most of us are reckoning with the reality of a different kind of holiday and feeling at least a little sad.
Our holidays typically include over-eating, sometimes imbibing in the spirits a bit too much, and going all out to get everything done, losing precious sleep. Everything on that list is also a symptom of holiday depression. And to take it one step further, they are all listed as signs of depression related to COVID-19. This year social isolation will only intensify feelings of loneliness.
Spread Hope During the Holidays Searching for hope is sometimes hard during the holidays. Joshua Becker shared ideas to spread holiday cheer in a December 2019 blog post, “12 Simple Ideas to Spread Holiday Cheer” at becomingminimalist.com. Here are seven ideas from Becker’s list that seem perfect for this year.
- Handwrite a letter – this year, send holiday greetings by more than just email
- FaceTime an old friend or a distant family member
- Buy a coffee for a stranger
- Smile and joke with your next cashier – the smile lines around your eyes will show above the mask
- Leave a nice tip – always a great idea but could make a real difference for someone on a limited income
- Bring a warm breakfast for the office – go beyond the doughnuts and bagels one time but make it easy, like McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches
- Sing along in the car, or the office or standing in line at the store – maybe someone will join you
When it’s hardest to be cheery is precisely when we all need it. Generosity comes in many, many forms. So, put on your Santa suit this year. How do you like to spread holiday cheer? Share your ideas.
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