It’s been a rough two years, or a rough ten years depending on who you ask. The holiday season brings with it the challenges of cold weather, of incessant advertising online and on TV, of regrets over what didn’t get done this year and, of course, the challenges of what gifts to get for people who probably want a return to normalcy above all else. It’s a time of year where all these things smash together and raise stress levels more than they should be for a time that is always, incorrectly, marketed only as joyful. It’s also a time of year that is incredibly sad for those who have lost loved ones or those who simply don’t have the means to provide for themselves or the people they love.
Some people love the holiday season and some people don’t. Some people need to be surrounded by people they appreciate and some people just want to be left alone until a new year can begin. When it comes to being there for your friends and family, don’t forget to understand their needs as best you can before deciding what to do. Of course it can be hard, at times, to know what’s best for people who might not be forthcoming about what they need or might simply acquiesce to any invitations or greetings. So we ultimately do the best we can, and if something goes wrong we try to make it right, even if that means canceling an invitation or creating a spontaneous gathering at the last minute. If there’s anything we’ve learned in the LGBTQ community, it’s that we don’t survive without those who support us.
We’ve all learned the joys of chosen family, and now is the time of year to show up (or not, if they prefer) for those in our orbit.
As far as what gifts to get for people, yes there are gift guides and yes there are sales at every digital and physical retail outlet. There are also places like Etsy where you can get a slightly more personalized gift or nonprofits where you can make donations in your loved ones’ name. But beyond the joys of stuff (Marie Kondo aside, who doesn’t love stuff?) don’t forget that you can lend truth to the old adage “it’s the thought that counts.”
You can write letters, you can make drawings, you can create custom cards or poems or songs, you can record a message and text it… the possibilities for cheap or free gifts from the heart are endless. You could learn to cook or bake and make your loved ones something to eat. You could even write a letter to your Congressperson or local elected officials to remind them to support communities that your friends and family belong to.
Yes, creativity does require work. It’s not a resource-free endeavor. But it’s worth the time and energy. Even if it’s just getting in touch with somebody you might have lost contact with during the pandemic, that simple act could help improve a person’s holiday season tremendously. And, luckily, there is still plenty of time to make that creativity happen before the end of the year.
Rather than wait until New Years to resolve to improve your life, why not improve your loved ones’ lives right now by making sure they feel loved this holiday season. And, hopefully, they’ll return the sentiment in equal measure.