Between the Lines

Kathy Steffen

Spreading kindness and joy is the reason for the season, and this year everyone needs a big dose of UPLIFT. Yes, you can stay safe and do good for others this holiday season. Make it your personal goal this month and into the new year to spread happiness and joy to those you love. Here are some ideas:

Purchase gift certificates or vouchers from your loved one’s favorite small businesses to use once it’s safe to go shopping or dining out again. Also, many businesses will take an order over the phone and offer curbside service. Your gift will not only delight your loved one, but will help a favorite place stay in business and give your giftee something to look forward to once life regains its even stride.

Give the gift of some grocery runs and delivery options for those in high-risk categories. When you do a delivery run, leave the bags (or put items in a box) on the person’s steps or porch and call to let them know what is there. Remind them if possible to allow the bag to sit for 24 hours before unloading, or wipe items down with disinfectant, or use disposable gloves (if they don’t have any, add a box of disposable gloves as your gift to them—they are relatively inexpensive). Or all three — can’t be too careful these days!

Purchase a journal and pen and print out gratitude prompts to tuck inside. Go to voiceoftherivervalley.com, February 2020 issue. “Between the Lines” is all about journaling, with lots of gratitude prompts to get your giftee started. Help them find joy and focus on the brighter side of life over the holidays. No internet? Think of what in your life you are grateful for and create a gratitude prompt list of your own to give them (and use yourself). Here are a few to get you started: What good thing happened today? This week? This year? What positive insights has the pandemic brought you? List three things that bring you joy every day … you get the idea.

Donate to a charity in the name of your loved one. Think of whom your loved one would like to help (or even ask them). Food banks, homeless shelters, animal shelters — there is sure to be a charity that will make your giftee beam with happiness twice — first when they hear from you (let them know in a holiday card) and later, when they get the thank-you from the charity.

Send a virtual hug. Knit, crochet or sew a throw, or look for “no-sew” fleece kits to make a warm fuzzy your giftee can wrap themselves in. Or purchase one. Write what the person means to you and what great things you wish for them soon. Every time your giftee wraps themselves up they will think of you, which is guaranteed to bring a hundred smiles over the winter.

As a gift to yourself, your friends, your family, and your community, wear your mask when in public. Stay home if you can. Stay safe this holiday season.

Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River Series:” “First, There is a River,” “Jasper Mountain,” and “Theater of Illusion.” She is grateful to write from her safe-at-home in Spring Green that she shares with her husband and cats. Find out more at www.kathysteffen.com.