Giving Thanks, Picture

By Barry Barbe
Across The Street

Today marks the official start of the winter holiday season. Regardless that Christmas decorations have been in the storefronts since August, Thanksgiving is here and quickly followed by Black Friday, the biggest gift buying day of the year.

Holiday calendars will be filled with social events. The Courthouse Lighting, Acker Night, school holiday concerts and family gatherings will occupy our time as we gather together to celebrate and create new memories.

However, for some, the holidays can be a time of stress, loneliness and depression as folks struggle with financial issues, abuse and isolation. While we can’t change these individual situations forever, we can make an effort to lighten the load and make a difference, if just for a moment. We never know the load carried by people we pass on the street but, during this season, more than ever we can show compassion.

It’s easy to allow the season to create stress on ourselves as we set high expectations. We pack our schedules, search out the perfect gift, and along the way we forget the reason to enjoy the season.

If the last couple of years have taught us anything, it is the importance of community and caring for one another.

And, while there is much to be thankful for, not everyone lives in our world. There will always be those who have more, and many more who have less. The gift is to be thankful for what we have, give as we can, and be kind.

And gifts to ourselves have benefits also – so eat the cookie, sleep an extra 15 minutes, linger over the coffee, enjoy the quiet.

I recently read an article about a gentleman who hands out handwritten business cards that say, “Have a Nice Day.” Another was of a lady who buys gift cards for a cup of coffee from local coffee shops that she gives to random people she interacts with.

There are simple acts such as shoveling your neighbor’s walk, or stopping by to say hello.

Instead of the 12 days of Christmas, make a list of 12 people you know, and send them a note. Share a memory or simply wish them well.

Make holiday cookies, some for you, some to share.

This time of year also brings requests from many worthy charitable causes. Along with a monetary donation, there are other ways to give, by simply giving of your time.

Volunteer as an usher at a local theater, or help with a community project. Become a “litter picker upper” along Granite Creek.

Plan a family visit to a local senior home around the holidays and spend time with someone else’s grandparents.

Donate make-up to a woman’s shelter. If styling hair is your trade, consider donating your time at a woman’s shelter, offering complimentary cuts.

Bring a hot meal or fruit basket to a shut in, or volunteer an evening meal to a local shelter.

Provide a new coat or toy for someone in need.

Have a group of friends “adopt” a family over the holidays.

Put an extra buck or two in the Red Kettle.

And then there are those things that cost us nothing.

Read a book to a child, or an adult.

Find the middle in the conversation.

Listen.

Thank a veteran.

Let the lady behind you in the check-out line go before you at the grocery store.

Invite a friend on a hike.

Walk the Peavine, Lynx Lake, or Constellation Trail.

Attend a school holiday concert, even if you don’t have kids in it.

Visit the courthouse plaza and say hello to folks who pass by.

Give the gift of patience and understanding.

The holidays, while a time of celebration, are also a time of reflection as we come closer to the end of another year.

As we roll closer to the New Year, perhaps, instead of resolutions, begin creating a bucket list of things you’d like to mark off your list – things you’d like to do, places you’d like to see, friends you’d like to reconnect with.

With all the lights, glitter and tinsel, we can get overwhelmed and lose focus on the reason for the season.

Take the time to enjoy those closest to us, and those we have yet to know.

And along the way, make a difference.

Happy holiday gifts.

Barry Barbe owns the El Gato Azul and Torme restaurants in Prescott, and is the energy and insight behind the Prescott Palette. Email: Prespalette@gmail.com.

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