By Senator Patty Ritchie
Between the shopping, baking, wrapping and seemingly endless to-do lists that are so characteristic of the holidays, often times, there is little time to remember to get in the spirit of the season and enjoy this time of year before it’s over.
While the holidays can be a lot of fun, the busyness can cause many people lose sight of the true meaning of the season.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can get in the spirit, and boost the spirits of others at the same time:
Look out for the lonesome: Loneliness is extremely common during the holidays. Do you know someone who is an empty nester, a senior or a person who just lost a loved one? It’s especially important this time of year, to reach out to those people and let them know they are not alone. It’s not just good for them, it will lift your spirits too.
Say thanks to our soldiers: This year, with the help of Central and Northern New Yorkers, I was able to collect nearly 8,000 Christmas cards to send to our troops serving overseas trough the “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program. Our troops sacrifice so much to protect our freedom and this was just a very small way to show them we care, and that we are thankful for their service. I encourage you to do the same, whether it’s volunteering at your local USO, taking part in a holiday initiative that helps our troops or simply saying ‘thank you,’ to someone in uniform.
A lesson in giving: The holidays are often referred to as the ‘season of giving.’ If you have children, it’s so important to impress upon them the significance of helping others, especially this time of year. Volunteer with your children, encourage them to give away one of their toys to someone who is less fortunate or shop for food together to donate to a local food pantry. In doing so, you can teach them that this season is more about giving than getting.
Practice gratitude: The holidays are a great time to give thanks for what you have. According to research, being grateful can increase levels of well-being and happiness, boost energy as well as optimism and empathy. Add gratitude to your holiday season by saying ‘thank you’ to someone who might not expect it.
It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness of the holiday season, but there are ways to ensure you don’t lose sight of what it’s really all about.
It is my wish for you, that not only during this time of year, but all year round, you remember what’s at the core of Christmas, doing good for others, being thankful for all we have, and spending time with those we love.
Best wishes for a safe, happy and healthy holiday!