The holidays are around the corner and aside from preparing for an onslaught of extra house guests or 3 hour holiday travel traffic jams, we often find ourselves stuck in the jaws of negativity surrounding holiday events. We have to put up with so-and-so’s crazy dogs or find a way to survive on green beans and chardonnay because Grandma keeps claiming to forget about your gluten and dairy intolerance.

Many of us admit to being holiday fanatics, but it’s more difficult to admit to experiencing a stress free holiday season. Sometimes, it can be so stressful that all we think about are the things we dread. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and preoccupied with the chaos and stress surrounding holidays, especially if tricky family dynamics are at play. We lose sight of what is important, and we lose perspective on what others may be experiencing throughout the season. A lot of us are lucky enough to choose how we celebrate the holidays, but many people have circumstances beyond their control that can make the holiday season a time of pain, discomfort, and loneliness.

Suffering does not go away on Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas or New Years. Illness, financial strife, and homelessness don’t disappear once the carols start blasting and the string lights go up.

We have to continue to be conscience of other people and their circumstances. The homeless man you pass on your way to work is still going to be there on Thanksgiving. The co-worker who just lost their mom will have to go through the holidays without her for the first time. Your new friend from out of town who can’t afford to take time off to fly home for the holidays is going to feel isolated and alone while many people are surrounded by the people they love. Your neighbor on welfare might not be able to cover the cost of feeding their family for the holidays.

There is a large, vast spectrum of human experiences and we need to be conscious of that as we move through the holidays. Maybe invite your co-worker to Thanksgiving or pick up some extra groceries for a family or food bank while you’re shopping for your own. Christmas and Hanukkah are around the corner, so you could tuck some extra cash away to donate to your favorite children’s charity or find an organization that sells goods made by women in impoverished countries. There’s nothing like giving a great gift, and doing good at the same time.

I’ve chosen to highlight some organizations, founded by women, that you can redirect your energy into this holiday season. When you feel that negativity and stress creeping up on you because your little cousin just sneezed all over your plate, donate a few bucks to a women’s shelter or food bank and see how you feel after that.

Feed Foundation – Founded Lauren Bush and Ellen Gustafon

A21 Campaign – Founded by Christine Caine

Malala Fund – Founded by Malala Yousafzai

Julian D King Gift Foundation – Founded by Jennifer and Julia Hudson

Samasource – Founded by Leila Janah

Women Giving Back  – Founded by Terri Stagi

 

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