12 Ways to Maintain the Christmas Spirit AFTER Christmas

Over the holiday season, a few bloggers and I discussed how easily people slip into the “giving” spirit when mid-November rolls around. And then *poof* Just like that, people tend to slip right out of it when January appears. It got me thinking. How can we maintain this energy year-round?

Initially, I’d planned to “experiment” with different ways and then write this at the end of the year. But I figured some people might want to try with me, so instead, I’ll update and re-blog the post every four weeks.

1The first thing I did was serve the homeless (January). I chose to volunteer at the Clara White Mission here in Jacksonville. The shelter is named after a black American who was enslaved on Amelia Island. Her daughter, Eartha became an entertainer and philanthropist, who cared about the poor and disenfranchised. Consequently, she founded the mission and named it after her mom.

Once a week for a couple of hours, I awoke from my usual slumber to literally bring plates of freshly cooked meals to patrons. Some were homeless; others had just been released from prison. Interacting with people of varied walks of life humbled me. Providing my time, instead of simply handing someone a dollar yielded a different type of energy.

Volunteering here is pretty simple. If you’re in the area, here’s the information. If not, then I’d encourage you to find a shelter/mission in your city.

People say that Christmas isn’t about giving and receiving gifts, but I can’t tell. It seems to be the part that everyone enjoys. And if you suggest removing it, then entire social media arguments ensue. I once read someone justify Christmas gifts with the story of the Three Wise Men.

I digress.

no_2The second thing I did was send people gifts (February). I began with my little sister friend’s birthday. I ordered Wandas from Two Dough Girls and had them delivered to her home. I also sent my little cousin a care package. She’s completing her first year at my alma mater, Western Michigan University. I asked her what she wanted/needed and she sent me a list. Dwight and I added her requests to our groceries and shipped them off. If you’ve ever been away from home, then you understand how exciting it is to receive free snacks and toiletries. Her older sister didn’t need anything, so I sent her a handwritten card with well-wishes and a copy of my book.

three-2032511_1280This next idea was a combination of a failed attempt to volunteer at a food pantry and something I’d seen other people do on social media. In February, I thought I was going to hand out food with United Community Outreach Ministry (UCOM). Instead, the director asked me to clean the toiletry section for an hour and a half. Although I saw the indirect benefit of helping her because she probably didn’t have time, I couldn’t see myself continuing to do this for three more weeks.

“I could do this myself, in my own way, I thought.”

That’s just what I did. The third thing I did was pass out goodie bags to transient people (March). I packed four 1-gallon Ziplock bags with deodorant, wipes, Vaseline, fresh fruit, granola bars, water, and five $1 bills. The first week, I started with the guy I see sleeping under I95. He mumbled something to me that I didn’t quite understand. The second week, I traveled downtown to where I know a group of the same population hangs out. Before I could make it there, a guy stopped me.

img_3054“Can I have that orange?” he asked

I gave him the entire bag. He seemed genuinely pleased, and even more excited when I told him there was money in there.

The third week, I was battling allergies and busy with book stuff, so Dwight gave a bag to an elderly gentleman with a cane.

I had planned to hand out the final bag on my way to Gainesville. For the past two years, I’ve noticed a small population of men who alternate holding a sign right at the Baldwin exit off I10. This time I tracked a guy as he crossed the street to nearby trees. I parked my car, walked over to the men who were seated around a makeshift living area, and handed the bag to the bearded man nearest the fence that separated us.

“God Bless you hun.” He said it twice.

“You too luv,” I replied.

With this one, I’ve learned that the homeless population is invisible, until you open your eyes and look for them. Then, they’re right in front of your face, begging to be seen.

Let me know what you think about this one. Do you think you could pack a goodie bag for the transient population in your city? Is that demographic high where you live?

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32 thoughts on “12 Ways to Maintain the Christmas Spirit AFTER Christmas

    1. Thanks J. Rock! (I just gave you that nickname lol) I’m not sure why that is. It’s like people get all service minded from November to January 1 and then forget that people are still homeless and in need.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Awesome advice! We should all be involved in volunteering. I have found that most people my age (and perhaps others) only volunteer for two reasons. The first reason is because they need some bullet points on the resume – because it looks good to colleges/employers. The second reason is because they are being forced to by the courts.

    I have volunteered at soup kitchens before. You are right – it is humbling. I left feeling like I was a part of something greater. The soup kitchens and pantries always need extra hands … people to serve the food, clean the tables, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely agree. I wish we would be of service without joining an organization or going to school! How about you just give to give…sheesh!

      That’s exactly what you feel like. You feel connected when you serve in this way.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love, love, love this! Oh K E, what a beautiful way to share your caring … and to inspire us to keep our hearts open every day. My spiritual mentor john Morton has a quote something like, Choose love every day. 🙂 🙂 🙂 I see you doing it! Have a wonderful week, and I love you — Debbie

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a lovely idea… one can give time, talent, or treasure, or in this case, maybe all three at the same time. You’re right, interacting face to face with people is much more intense than just giving a dollar or two. Go, girl. Can’t wait to see more as your project develops. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Joan! That’s what I’m thinking and where I’m headed. I was trying to keep the post short, so I couldn’t quite describe just how intense that experience was, but I’m glad you get it. Thanks for stopping by and chatting!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yay!!! Yes- I loved monday notes. Particularly as I can relate- I hsve so many random notes and love browsing them occasionally for inspiration or to jog my memory. Hurrah!!! Now your life can move on to other things (after an indepth discussio).

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Volunteering is a great thing. I always wanted to volunteer at the Children’s Hospital since they provided great care when I needed it. In the meantime, I try to do random/on the spot things for older folks around me that seem to need help

    Liked by 2 people

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