1. Grief during the Holidays
For many of us, the Christmas season brings joy, togetherness, and love, usually made apparent through shared meals, good conversation, and fun activities. But for many, the holidays are painful milestones of loss, or bring about memories of folks who are no longer with us. For me, this time of year is always bittersweet. I have so much fun planning and baking and getting together…but I’m painfully aware of who is not present. These ties that bind continue on after death, but it’s hard to feel that all the time. If you are grieving this holiday, I hope you can allow yourself time to feel all the big feelings and reach out if you need to. It’s also on all of us, as a community, to be sensitive to loss and reach out to those who may be feeling grief during this season.
2. Helping Out
Speaking of difficult Christmases, for many among us across the US, Christmases look very different when you face food, home, and economic insecurity. While some people don’t bat an eye at the extra expenses that come up during this time of year, others are barely scraping by. We are called by Christ to share our plenty with those who have little, and while we should be remembering this all year long, the holidays can prompt extra philanthropy in us. Make it a tradition for your family to help serve Christmas lunch for those who have nowhere to go, donate extra to organizations working to combat homelessness and poverty, be generous to people you know who are struggling. For those who have been given much, we have much to share.
3. Helpless and Hungry/What Child is This
A favorite during the Christmas season in many Mennonite congregations is Helpless and Hungry, especially when paired with What Child is This. In the new hymnal, Voices Together, the two are beside each other (on page 268 and 267, respectively) so you don’t need to hymnals to combine the two. Here is a link to The Hound + The Fox singing this beautiful combination.
4. Shop Local
If you’re like me, you have exactly 25% of your Christmas shopping done. For those of you who are also scrambling, or wonder what to get for the person who has everything, consider shopping local. Local businesses took a big hit with Covid, and many are still struggling. Local shops usually have lots of unique items for people who are difficult to shop for, and your money will help your local economy thrive. If possible in your area, consider patronizing shops owned by people of color. And while you’re out and about shopping, eat at a local restaurant! Good food and fellowship all in one!
5. Edible Christmas Wreaths
A fun tradition I remember from my teenage years is making these edible cornflake Christmas wreaths. In our Home Ec class on the last day of school before break, we would always make these simply sweets. I recommend Red Hots instead of the M&Ms to represent holly berries, but you do you!