Christmas is undoubtedly one of the biggest celebrations within the Western Society. Originally, Christmas is a religious and cultural day meant to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Over the years, Christians and non-Christians have engaged in this celebration because it has grown in popularity as a time to make merry and to be with loved ones. Whether it’s seen as a religious holiday or not, it has become tradition to spend quality time with family and loved ones - which means presents, certain foods, beverages and films are naturally all associated with this particular time of the year.
Despite any personal/religious beliefs you may hold, in my own opinion I feel that the true meaning of Christmas lies within giving back to the people and the community. Whether that’s donating money to a charity, taking somebody who might not have a family to spend this special time with to lunch or volunteering, I can’t stress the importance of giving back during this busy, festive season.
So, here are some ways you can ‘give back’ this Christmas:
Donating to a charity
This may sound obvious, however, if you don’t have the time or you are unable to volunteer, choosing to donate to the right charity at this festive time could be really useful. Popular charities such as The Salvation Army ensure they have great campaigns to draw attention from the public and make people aware of what they represent and how you could help. You should research various charities online and donate to the ones of your choice. You may even find some local charities within your own community that you’d be interested in donating to. For example, something as simple as buying a copy of the Big Issue from a vendor is a great way of donating your money to a great cause.
Helping the less fortunate
This time of the year can be particularly lonely and difficult for a lot of people. Donating food to food banks at this time of the year is very important, especially after the holidays as the majority of people tend to buy too much food that then goes to waste. Instead, you could donate that food to someone less fortunate, and around this busy time there is no doubt food banks are looking for more donations. Clean our your cupboards and donate things you don’t need. Same goes for clothes. You may get plenty of new clothes as Christmas presents from your friends and family, so it’s a good time to reconsider whether you wear some of your old clothes that you could potentially donate to people in need. Look out for your local organisations that would take in food and clothes donations.
If you have some free time on your hands and want to do something special during this festive season, volunteering at soup kitchens could be a great way to get involved and give back to the community. You’ll be able to fully immerse yourself into helping others and meeting interesting people along the way. Whether it’s a soup kitchen for the homeless or volunteering your time in a care home for the elderly, I encourage you all to get involved if you are able to do so! You could even have your family and friends join you to make it more special and share the experience with your loved ones.
We tend to forget the importance of donating blood during this busy period. Last year, one in five donors missed their appointments over the Christmas period – it’s easy to see how though, as you can get so carried away with preparations for the festivities. However, the demand for blood donations remains the same, as providing a life-saving blood service doesn’t stop over Christmas and New Year. Therefore, whether you’re already a donor or are interested in signing up, this festive season might be the best time to do so as giving blood is ‘the gift only you can give’.
There are literally endless opportunities of how you can ‘give back’ this Christmas season – the only thing you have to decide is what you can and can’t commit to. I hope this may inspire you to think of Christmas in a slightly different way as it is so easy to get wrapped up (pardon the pun) in all the commercialised aspects of Christmas and forget the true, real meaning of this period.
Tomorrow I shall be spending my morning volunteering with my friends at a soup kitchen for the elderly who are spending Christmas on their own this year – this is why I felt so strongly about wanting to deliver this message and try to motivate others to think of Christmas differently this year as I myself was inspired by someone else to do so.
Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it and happy holidays to you all!
Image: Seattle Municipal Archives, Flickr