Isn’t it ironic?
Many people actually dread the holiday season. The combination of holiday stressors – rushing around to buy gifts and worrying about money, seeing extended family, feeling lonely or depressed, and the temptation to overeat and over drink - can feel overwhelming to many people.
Yet inside each of us we yearn for more joy, more worthiness and more connection. In every culture and every century, we're hard-wired for celebrating, getting together and feasting. It seems like finding a reason to celebrate is truly part of our DNA.
At this time of year, my clients tell many laments and worries about the holiday season. They feel alone and adrift. They will not be having the greeting card holiday. They may be holding sadness about a missing family, pain about relationships that are emotionally splintered, struggling with a sick child...
I bring this challenging question. It is the same one that I ask myself every year:What will be a meaningful holiday for me?
Once you are able to answer that question -- not always easy -- you can begin to make plans to create such a holiday. Through the years, I have observed that people rarely answer, "More presents!" or "More expensive presents!" Usually the answer involves a desire to connect with other people in a positive way or create a day that is uplifting and good.
One of my personal meaningful holiday experiences for the past 15 years has been the "Blessing Of The Gifts," a simple project that involves an ever-changing group of people that makes my holidays a little more fun. Like many other organizations in our community, this project focuses on collecting simple gifts for the forgotten, poor and needy in our community.
There’s more. After the donations are sorted and packaged, we pile them in the center of the room and give the packages our blessing – all the goodness and love and strength and courage that we have to offer.
The gifts, after all, are only a token. It is the love that we send that’s important. At this time of year, we all want to feel as if we have something valuable to give and can make a difference in our world. When we are able to feel this way, it feels good.
Oh, yes, we have snacks. We laugh. We count our own blessings. And we spend time together. So wonderful.
This year, like every year, I continue to be amazed at the generosity of people. Someone brings a big bag of calendars. Another sorts makeup samples that she doesn’t plan to use. There are warm gloves, mittens, toiletries, greeting cards, little books, candy canes…
All of these gifts will be sorted, packaged and blessed at a special program from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday Dec. 11, at Lake House Health & Learning Center, 932 Lake Ave., Racine. All are welcome to participate; feel free bring a donation for the project or a donation of non-perishable food for the Racine Food Bank, if you are able. Gently used or new towels for HALO are also welcome.
I must admit that when each donation bag and box arrives, it feels like a mini-Christmas. I open the bags and find treasures. I am sure that I get as much excitement from opening the donations as the recipients do.
If you’d like to contribute, or start your own project, these are the kinds of gifts that are often needed: toiletries, cards and stationery, journals and calendars, bookmarks, socks, slippers and scarves and other small gifts.
May you have a meaningful holiday.
Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP, is an author, trainer and psychotherapist who promotes, practices and teaches experiential methods including psychodrama, Family and Systemic Constellations, sand tray, mindfulness and Tarot imagery.