I love talking to the people around me. The different humans and their stories are always a great source of inspiration for me and I am always fascinated by what you can learn. Sometimes you are surprised, sometimes you laugh together and sometimes – yes, sometimes these conversations make you thoughtful and sad.
It gets colder and colder outside and the day already says goodby in the afternoon to make way for the night. Everywhere small light bulbs glow on innumerable fairy lights. It smells of hot wine punch, good food and gingerbread. Cool wind inspires us to put on many warm layers and cuddle us in thick wool scarves. Snowflakes dance through the ink-blue evening sky and let us dream of the festival of love, which soon bathes the houses in golden light and a comforting atmosphere. People pause for a moment and use this occasion to reflect on the past year and to duly initiate and celebrate its conclusion. Whether Christian or not, the festival of love enchants almost everyone. But just only almost everone...
While happy families stroll over the Christmas markets, buy gifts for their loved ones, turn the flat into a Christmas wonderland and look forward to the festival with colorful advent calendars, there are people who are almost afraid of this time. While everyone celebrates, dines well, and enjoys fellowship with family and friends, they try not to sink into grief. This post is dedicated to these people. And all those who want to help make the festival of love truly to a festival of love!
But back to the conversations with the people and their stories …
Christmas, the festival of love - and loneliness!
I have to confess that I'm not one of those people who run through the malls, almost getting a broken armbone by carrying the tons of heavy bags of gifts and Christmas decorations, and walking in the streets wearing a Christmas hat to show everyone how excited I am. I'm pretty minimalist and a dreamer. At this time, I more enjoy the lights, the wonderful smells, the peace that the season brings in a wonderful way and the closeness to the people and the conversations I have with them. Many are positive and full of anticipation. But there are those who can not feel the magic of Christmas. They don't have a smile on their chapped winter lips, no glow in the eyes, no anticipation for the big party, because of which the whole city is in a great uproar. They would be glad if this festival was over yet, because for them it is a painful reminder that they have no reason to celebrate at all...
I have met some of them again and again in the last days and the conversations with them have saddened me and made me reflective. Elderly people who have no family who visits them. Poor people who can not offer their loved ones a gift or a good dinner because they do not even know how to pay their rent. Or homeless people who do not even know if they will survive Christmas in the cold temperatures.
How can we celebrate the festival of love and spend tons of money while they are lonely and crying, hunger while we are having delicios dinners or decorating everything while they don't even have a warm home to celebrate in?
This is not a post to talk Christmas down, quite the opposite. I just want to remind you that Christmas was once considered as the festival of love, but that message is now sinking more and more in waves of consumption, expensive food and fairy lights. Whether one is a Christian or not, isn't altruism what this beautiful festival should be about?
Of course we should all celebrate, preferably every day. Because life should always be celebrated! But how about turning the festival of love truely into a celebration of love again, bringing the true essence of Christmas back to life? What if we helped to make it easier for more people to laugh in that special time instead buying of expensive gifts, decorations and food, which sometimes even make us end up in debt, and finally feel the magic of Christmas again?
We can all contribute to make Christmas a positive event for everyone
1. Invite elder people to celebrate with you
Many old people live alone because their partner has died or they live in a nursing home. Some do not have a family, or their family does not visit them, so they are alone at Christmas. Whether the neighbor, who never had children or the old man in the nursing home, who never gets a visit. The lady whose husband died and who is lonely or the gentleman who lives too far away from his family to celebrate with them. There are many elderly and lonely people who are painfully reminded at Christmas that they are terribly lonely. While laughter, party mood and community can be found everywhere, they are sitting in front of the television all alone. Maybe you still have a place at your Christmas table and you could invite an older person to celebrate with you. You do not believe how much that can mean to a lonely person and how priceless this charity is to many. No gift of the world could make them so happy. You do not have to offer them an expensive roast, just be there for them and let them participate the celebration. I visited a nursing home a few years ago at Christmas time, and I let the residents tell me how they used to celebrate Christmas when they were kids. That made their eyes shine and I was incredibly touched and fascinated by their emotional stories. It's nice to learn something new and even make others happy. Listen, be there for your fellow human beings and truly celebrate the festival of love! It enriches everyone!
2. Give a gift to homeless people or stroll over the Christmas market with them
You want to visit the Christmas market anyway and drink a hot wine punch there and eat something delicious? Often there are many homeless people begging for money to afford something to eat. If you see someone sitting by the side of the road, just offer the person a chance to go over the Christmas market with you and have a glass of hot wine punch with you and something to eat. It probably will not cost you much, but for the homeless it is a priceless gesture that deeply touches them and gives hope. We all want a nice life, something to eat and compassion. What keeps us from giving it to our fellow human beings? A dirty jacket and a sleeping bag? What if we were sitting there because we could not pay the rent anymore and he passed by with his friends and had a hot wine punch while we would be cold? Would not we also wish to be part of it? I will never forget the looks of the people I invited to dinner. So much gratitude is rarely experienced and it touches me so deeply that no present can be better than that in my opinion!
If that is too much closeness, of course you have other options. You like baking cookies for Christmas? What do you think about doing a few more this time and bringing a bag to those who have nothing? Or if you go shopping for gifts anyway, spend a few bugs more and buy a little present like hand warmers, candles and chocolates for the homeless? The joy of this gesture is really overwhelming!
3. Give away the things you no longer need to kindergartens, homeless shelters and social institutions
The year is drawing to a close and we all have time to reflect during the festival season and let go of everything that does not fit into the new year. Also our possession! Do a thorough tidy out, rejoice over the newfound freedom and give away the things that you no longer need to those who do not know how to give their loved ones a gift. In kindergartens there are always children whose parents have little money and to whome Christmas can be humiliating, as their children have to watch sadly how their friends get great gifts while they get (almost) nothing. Offer the kindergarten teachers to distribute your things to these parents, so that their children can keep a positive Christmas in mind!
Even homeless shelters, refugee homes or other social institutions are very happy about donations. Some cities even suggest that you can deliver some shoeboxes full of beautiful things, which are then sent to poor countries to please those who otherwise have little reason to laugh.
4. Collect donations for good causes
At Christmas time, people are often more generous. Going over the Christmas market with a donation box from a social organization can bring in a lot of money for the institutions, from which they can offer a wonderful meal or something good to the visitors or residents. Often the employees work there voluntarily and have a lot to do, so they can not go collecting donations themselves. Supporting them is a nice sign of charity!
5. Bring Christmas to those who have no time for Christmas
Sounds weird, right? No time for Christmas, how could that be? Many have to put aside the wish for a nice party with their loved ones, because they have to work while we are having a good time. The cashier in the supermarket, the paramedic, the geriatric nurse, the bus driver... There are many people who have money and family, but are still sad on Christmas. Because they can not celebrate it anyway. Giving them a little bit of attention and a small present, for example gingerbread, candles, hot wine punch or something homemade, will make them incredibly happy. Because it signals: "Thank you for doing your job and being there for us while the others are celebrating! I really appreciate that and you too should be able to celebrate a bit! "And that message is just heart-warming!
How about ending up the year by bringing joy and love to your fellow human beings? For you, this may only be a small step, but for the gifted, it can mean the world. Let's turn Christmas into the festival of love again. Because that's what it really should be all about at this time, not about who has the most fairy lights and the most expensive gifts. These are things that we will not remember in a few years. However, the gratitude and joy of our fellow human beings will be in our hearts forever.
I wish you a wonderful Advent season and many magical moments!
Lots of love,
P.S.: The pictures used in this post are from the website pixabay.com