Staying Engaged and Giving Back During a Non-Traditional Holiday Season

Like many, I have found myself struggling with how to stay positive and cheerful this holiday season. Every day I am faced with making decisions about how best to stay connected with family and friends or challenges about how to stay engaged in helping others during a time that feels anything but traditional.

Some decisions have been hard, and I can admit to brief moments of tearful regret – mostly related to those instances when I have had to forego in-person visits with my children and the new grandbabies. On the flip side, though, I’ve been able to safely engage in several goodwill activities that have helped me stay connected with the spirit of the holidays.

Working from home, I can be more actively involved with my Rotary family as my home club is very close by. This year, the Mayor of Corunna (Michigan) was struggling to round up enough volunteers to string the holiday lights on the lamp posts that line our city streets. Every year, those lights add an extra dimension to the overall holiday festiveness of our small town. It feels like you are driving into someplace special and familiar. Our 20-member Corunna Rotary club accepted the challenge and will string 100 lamp posts one evening this week to ensure everyone can enjoy at least one annual tradition.

Southwest themed bedroom at Fiddler's veteran;s homeCorunna Rotary has also been engaged with the new Fiddler’s Green veterans’ housing facility in Corunna with 25 veterans already moved in and the ability to accept more. Local businesses and organizations have begun adopting rooms within what was a former nursing home. We patched, painted and decorated two rooms with input from the residents. One veteran wanted a southwest themed room, and we were able to create a setting straight out of his native Arizona.

My wish this season is that we make lemonade out of the lemons we have been given relative to in-person gatherings and holiday get-togethers. Seek out opportunities to help others in any way you can. Food pantries and agencies who support low-income families desperately need donations and volunteers for drive-through distributions. Check in on elderly neighbors who may be feeling extra isolated or have unfulfilled needs. Staying engaged is what is getting me through the ups and downs of this non-traditional year.

Best wishes for a healthy and happy holiday season!