The holiday season is now in full gear, with the lights, trees, music, and holiday spirit that fills our hearts.  It is a time of excitement, joy, anticipation, gratitude, generosity and love.  Family gatherings, holiday parties, neighborhood celebrations abound, and we look forward to reuniting with our loved ones.  For many, the 2021 Holiday Season is the first we are spending with our extended families again after Covid-19.

For some, however, this is also a time of anxiety, fear, and sadness.  Some have lost loved ones and others may not have family or friends nearby to gather with. Some are living in physical or mental distress, and they are in no mood to celebrate.  For some, the thought of the holidays can bring on panic and dread.  We don’t know how they feel about it unless we ask.

As we work on growing ourselves this season, we can increase our own empathy by putting ourselves in the shoes of others and providing a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on.  Getting to know our teammates in a personal way beyond the basic hellos and goodbyes will help make the world a kinder place.

For me, this season fills me with joy, but I also have some sadness as I recall fond memories of loved ones that are no longer with us.  I try to honor their life by sharing their wisdom and traditions with my own family.  It is up to each of us to find the joy and celebrate the way that is meaningful for us.  And if we have the capacity in our hearts, we should try to share that spirit with others.

What are some ways that you can spread holiday cheer to others during this holiday season?

I have a few ideas to inspire you:

Do something good for others!

  • Pick a family to support from the Salvation Army tree. This year due to Covid, the donations are still online only, and you can donate money as a team to make Christmas memorable for a family in need.
  • Meals on Wheels – at my last company we spent a half day delivering meals to people who could not cook for themselves.
  • Habitat for Humanity – Volunteer together and learn the unique home building talents of your coworkers! The joy of building a home that will shelter another family is a great bonding experience.
  • Delivering meals or gifts for your local school or church – doing this as a family will help adults and children think more about how the items on some people’s wish lists are blessings many of us take for granted.

Sweet Treats

Sweets are one of my favorite things about the holiday season – and universally people love to receive sweets as a sign of love and appreciation.

  • Try making cookies or treats for your team or having a holiday bake-off to inspire a little friendly holiday competition.
  • Cultural celebrations to share as an office – Many cultures celebrate this season differently with a wide variety of foods. You could host a potluck featuring foods and drinks from a variety of countries – learning more about one another increases our level of acceptance and knowledge.

Start New or Continue Old Traditions

My favorite holiday memories involve starting or continuing traditions.  

  • Start a Gratitude Wall – one of my favorite mentors taught me to Praise in Public, and what better way than to start a Kudos or Gratitude Wall! Use sticky notes or fun paper to write a note of appreciation for a colleague doing a great job.  This can be electronic or featured on the intranet for those still working remotely.  It’s amazing how much a little thankfulness can do to keep people inspired and fulfilled.
  • Secret Santa or White Elephant Gift Exchange – these tried-and-true traditions can add some excitement as people try to figure out who their benefactors are.
  • Gingerbread House competition between teams – winners get a prize!

Whatever you decide to do, think of what you can do to be a light to others during this season!

Happy Holidays to You and your Family!

-Sheryl

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