Christmas with all its rush and excesses can be depressing rather than uplifting. So here are some suggestions about how you can make Christmas better:
While writing cards to those you love and those you feel obliged to send cards to, write some more and send them to Amnesty’s prisoners of conscience. By sending a card to one of the 32 individuals, groups and communities especially selected by the charity Amnesty International, you can give strength and hope to their recipients, and send a message to police, prison staff and political authorities that the world is watching what they are doing.
If you live in the UK and buy online, you can make a donation to charity at no cost to yourself every time you shop at over 2000 online shops including Amazon, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Interfora, Laterooms and lots of other well-known stores. All you have to do is sign up with EasyFundraising, choose your charity. Then every time you want to buy online, go first to EasyFundraising and access the site you want from there. Once you have bought, the online store will automatically give as much as 5% of the purchase price to your chosen charity.
Kiva is a microfinance organisation that puts you in touch with a named person or group and you can loan from as little as 25 US dollars. A Kiva voucher is a great gift, allowing whoever receives it to log onto the Kiva web site and decide who to loan it to. You can do this even if you’re not I the US. I’ve had a really good response to this when I gave them last year. People really liked being able to choose who to support with their microloan. Recommended by Oprah Winfrey as well as me!
I don’t really want much these days, so some of my family and I agree that they will give me a small gift and the rest will go to charity.
One of the best gifts we can give people is time and our full attention. Spend time listening to a relative that you normally find boring or go out of your way to write a personal letter to someone who normally gets a standard letter or just a card. Don’t aim to do lots of this – set yourself a doable target and next year you can do more yet.
Ask a local community group or charity if there is something that you can do to help them – be clear about how much time/money you have or what skills you have and keep to any commitment you make.
Many people eat to excess over Christmas and then feel ill, spotty, headachey and sleepy. Many people drink to excess and then say things they regret and do things they regret. If you’ve been one of these in the past here are a few simple tips to help you survive in a saner way:
People aren’t perfect, but often we expect them to be perfect at Christmas. Recognise that many people feel stressed at Christmas and that you being disappointed in them (again!) is not going to help. Reduce your expectations of other people at Christmas rather than increasing them.
And remember you’re not perfect either. Do the best you can to be generous, happy and tolerant, but recognise that you will not always live up to your own standards, just as at any other time of the year.
Copyright Jane Thurnell-Read 2010
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