The Holidays: Let’s Get Real.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? We’re told that everywhere we go these days. But what no one says quite so readily is that it can be pretty not-so-wonderful, too. Bittersweet. Stressful. Grief-filled.
It might be the first holiday season spent without someone you love. Maybe distance or other obstacles are keeping your family apart. Or maybe your family is together but challenged. Whatever the reason, there are a lot of folks who have to just put their heads down and do their best to get through the holidays and the expectations that come with them.
I start avoiding Facebook about this time every year because I feel the pressure to compare everyone else’s adorable moments to my own ordinary life. The precious family photos, glorious feasts, perfectly decorated homes, and beautiful greeting-card scenes can wreck my self-esteem in no time flat. We’re all trying to achieve our own “snowglobe” moment. But life doesn’t always work like that.
For our RMHC-KC families, it’s always hard to have to be away from home. Nobody ever wants to need a Ronald McDonald House, and it’s especially tough to need to be here during the holidays. It’s hard for our guest families to see everyone posting all the celebrations at schools, home, churches, everywhere, when they can’t be a part of it—because they’re here with a seriously ill child. The comparison game is always tough. This time of year, it can be crushing.
Giving extra love this time of year matters a lot. Are you one of those grieving? Having a hard time? One way past (or at least through) grief is service. Service has a sneaky way of filling your soul with gratitude. And gratitude can go a long way in bringing joy to the holiday season instead of pressure.
Wondering what you can do to help? At RMHC-KC, we have ways both big and small. You could put together cozy comfort bags for kids and families in the hospital, or serve as a weekly holiday helper on our campus. Or you could drop off holiday gifts or items from our wish list.
You don’t have to volunteer here at RMHC-KC, either. There are plenty of amazing organizations throughout Kansas City who would welcome your service, like bringing cans of food to Harvesters or taking old towels and blankets to Wayside Waifs. Wherever you choose to help, know you’ll be helping yourself, too.
I’m always in awe this time of year at the special things people do for our guest families at RMHC-KC. The holidays here are what I like to call “generosity on parade.”
We have everything from people dropping off gifts for our kids to groups organizing hot-cocoa bars to Chiefs’ players popping by to say hi to the families we serve. We even have a group from the Jewish community, called the Christmas Mitzvah Project, who have volunteered here for 32 years in a row on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (32 years!) They take over our Houses and Family Room, and they do everything from answering phones to making and serving meals, to washing linens—anything and everything that’s needed to take care of our guest families. All so our staff at RMHC-KC can have a few days off to spend with our own families. We are so fortunate to have our Christmas Mitzvah Project volunteers. (32 years!!!)
Seeing all the love shown for our RMHC-KC families over the holiday season is so inspiring—it’s like people just instinctively understand how hard the holidays can be. And who knows, it might be helping the givers get through this time of year a little easier, too.
If you’re struggling this holiday season, help someone. Help yourself.
Remember: goodwill is good for you, too.
Wishing you and yours love and strength this holiday season,