Community & Current Events

A touch of comfort

Author: Canadian Living

Community & Current Events

A touch of comfort

This festive season is joyous for most of us, but here are some tips on how to remember those who are grappling with illness or loss at this time of year from Gifts From The Heart: 500 Simple Ways To Make Your Family's Christmas More Meaningful (Insomniac Press, 2006) by Virginia Brucker.

• Call ahead to make arrangements. It's hard for sick people to do things spontaneously. Often they need to adjust their schedule in order to conserve their energy for your visit.

• Ask the person who is ill if there is anywhere special they would like to go during the Christmas season. Perhaps there is a special movie or a light display they'd like to see. Plan ahead, but be understanding if changes must be made.

• Go shopping together for a wig, a hat or a scarf with a very close friend who anticipates hair loss due to chemotherapy. Go out for lunch afterward. Your moral support will be appreciated.

• Set aside two half days to help put up and take down your friend's Christmas tree.

• Put up and take down their outdoor lights.

• Invite their children to your house for a baking or craft session so Mom or Dad can have a nap.

• Organize some friends, parents, or church members to bake an extra dozen of their favourite treat. Arrange an appropriate time to deliver the goodies.

• Ask your church group, neighbours, friends or school's parents to have a "freezer meal" blitz. Let the family receiving the meals know ahead of time to make sure freezer space will be available.



Virginia Brucker is the author of Gifts from the Heart: Simple Ways to Make Your Family's Christmas More Meaningful. Book sales support cancer research. To date, over $98,500 has been raised for the Canadian Cancer Society. A newly revised and expanded edition of Gifts from the Heart is available at bookstores across Canada.

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• If you don't have time to cook, arrange to have a pizza delivered or pick up some pasta or roast chicken and a couple of salads at the grocery store.

• Phone and ask if you can do some shopping for them when you are going to the mall.

• Offer to sit with a person who can't get out so their caregiver can have a rest or do some of their own Christmas shopping.

• Sometimes there are great financial hardships associated with illness. Find out discreetly if your friend or family member needs help; if so, arrange to pay their electrical, phone or heating bill anonymously.

• Decorate a relative's hospital room with a small wreath, a tiny tree or some colourful drawings from your children.

• For someone who will be in the hospital on Christmas Day, fill a stocking with tiny treats such as hand cream, a word search book, a favourite treat, some hard candies and a small bottle of cologne or aftershave.

• Too often we don't say the things closest to our hearts. Write a Christmas letter saying what you love, admire and cherish about your friend or relative.

• Begin a new tradition or ritual that is meaningful for you such as lighting a special candle in memory of your loved one.

• This may be the year for a Christmas trip if you can afford it. If not, you may want to plan to visit friends or relatives on Christmas Day.

• After an emotional crisis, you'll be tired and need more downtime over the holidays. Choose to do a few things that are really important, and let the others go this year. Skip sending cards or buy your baking if you wish. Give yourself permission to do less.

• You may wish to have Christmas dinner at another family member's, a friend's house, or a restaurant. If you are staying at home, you may want to make small changes such as using a different tablecloth or dishes, changing the time of the meal or serving a buffet rather than a sit-down meal.

• Try hard to do something for someone else this year. Help at a food bank, serve a meal to the homeless or pick out a toy for a needy child. It will help fill the void.

• When a much-loved teaching assistant died in our school district, her friends and colleagues decorated a tree for her teenaged daughter. Each person brought an angel ornament and read aloud a message about her mom as they placed their ornament on the tree. The messages were placed in an album for her daughter to read and re-read later on. The following December a candlelight walk was held in her memory. What a memorable tribute to a special person!



Virginia Brucker is the author of Gifts from the Heart: Simple Ways to Make Your Family's Christmas More Meaningful. Book sales support cancer research. To date, over $98,500 has been raised for the Canadian Cancer Society. A newly revised and expanded edition of Gifts from the Heart is available at bookstores across Canada.

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A touch of comfort

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