For many of us, the holidays bring a welcome break from our busy routines and offer us time to celebrate, rest, enjoy traditions, and gather with loved ones. But for those who are hurting after a difficult year, the holidays can make heartache feel even more pronounced. This may be a neighbor's first Christmas after losing a loved one or walking through divorce. Many people will have an empty seat at their tables representing a family member who is deployed, or sick, or far away and unable to travel to be with them.
As we head into a season that is marked by parties, celebration, and generally joyful spirits, here are a few ways we can be attuned to our neighbors who may need a little extra care:
1. Ask your neighbors about their holiday plans.
Ask them what they're looking forward to and also what might be new, different, or challenging for them this year. Showing genuine interest is a great way to open the door for others to share freely what's on their heart as they enter the holidays.
2. Acknowledge the Hard Things.
Recognizing that someone has experienced a loss or gone through a trial this year doesn't remind them of their grief. They already feel it. But acknowledging the pain of others does remind them that they are cared for and that they don't have to face it alone. They have a neighbor (and a community) who cares for them and sees their pain.
3. Invite Others In.
If you're not sure how to best care for a neighbor who might be lonely or struggling, start with an invitation! Invite them to a meal, a party, or even just to go for a walk around the block. Ask them if they have a special holiday tradition, like baking cookies or watching a favorite movie, and then invite them to share the experience with you.
While we can never take someone else's pain away, we can bring immense comfort just by being present and intentional during a season that brings many emotions to the surface. Let's remember to reach out and extend an extra measure of goodwill to those who need it most this holiday season.