PINKE: How to give back this holiday season
WISHEK, N.D. -- I'm not a lifelong 4-Her. I don't have years of experience as a member or Grand Champion ribbons tucked away in a drawer. Today, though, I'm a 4-H mom and leader. Once a month, a couple of us plan a meeting with our members and fa...
WISHEK, N.D. - I'm not a lifelong 4-Her. I don't have years of experience as a member or Grand Champion ribbons tucked away in a drawer. Today, though, I'm a 4-H mom and leader. Once a month, a couple of us plan a meeting with our members and families. We lead by doing and learning alongside the kids.
During the Christmas season, we wanted to gather our Cloverbuds, ages 5 to 7, to celebrate and serve by spreading Christmas cheer. My fellow leader, Tammy, suggested the kids visit a local nursing home and sing Christmas carols. Each child also made five cards to hand out to residents.
My girls and I were the first to arrive at the nursing home. As nurses and aides helped residents gather in the front room and hallways, I started to worry other members might not show up. Thankfully, my worries were short-lived when parents and kids started walking through the doors with their stacks of homemade cards. The kids lined up and sang Christmas carols they've been learning in school: Jingle Bells, Joy to the World, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Candle in the Window and, my two personal favorites, Stille Nacht (Silent Night in German), which I can't understand a word of but love that our kids learn it to carry on a local tradition, and We WISHEK you a Merry Christmas!
After a few songs, we walked the halls behind a nurse, singing again for the residents who couldn't leave their rooms. We left the nursing home and reconvened at our usual meeting location for snacks and drinks. We played games, read stories and shared our Christmas plans.
It was the simplest of parties but the most rewarding.
There's something about giving that makes the season magical. If you're feeling down this season, broken by circumstances you can't control or unsure of the future, find a way to give back. It can start with a visit to your local nursing home, shaking hands and wishing others a Merry Christmas.
You're going to have to step out this season if you want to remember it differently. For example, if you want to reset how you feel about the Dakota Access protests, find a way to support Standing Rock. Consider providing clothing for those in need, or visit your local food pantry and volunteer your time.
This coming week, Wishek Friendly Faces will deliver gifts to individuals and families in our community who are in need of Christmas cheer. Meeting a need doesn't always involve a monetary or material investment; sometimes it's just taking the time to spread Christmas joy with a smile, or slowing down to engage in a conversation to show you care. You can extend the holiday spirit to a family member, neighbor or even a stranger.
Have you followed the fall of Aleppo? On the other side of the world, there are thousands of Syrians fleeing with no food or shelter. It's hard to fathom giving up everything. There are needs and causes that, for various reasons, prevent you from lending a hand in person, but giving to an organization such as Preemptive Love can make a real difference. A donation of $30 provides sleeping bags for two people, $250 feeds 10 families for a month, $600 provides sleeping bags for 40 people and $1,000 feeds 40 families for a month.
Lead by doing. You don't need to be involved with an organization such as 4-H to lead and give. However you feel called - visit a nursing home and sing Christmas carols, buy coats for a local cause, donate money to a statewide or global relief effort - give and be enriched this season. Define your season by taking that step to celebrate by giving.
Editor's note: Pinke is the Agweek general manager and publisher. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .