Thursday, December 3, 2015

Generosity and Community Beyond the Season

Last week many of us celebrated Thanksgiving. Then there was Giving Tuesday. With these two occasions and with all of the holidays still to come*, I can’t help but find my mind turning to thinking about others more often.

I don’t consider myself a particularly selfish or self-centered person, thinking only of myself. Those that I love and care about are never far from my mind. But this time of year always affects my head and my heart in a little bit of a different way. I have the privilege of spending time with family during this time of year. I have a couple of fun gatherings to attend with the wonderful friends and colleagues in my life. I have a little one and get to see the season anew through her eyes. I imagine I am not alone in this enhanced feeling of sentiment and generosity.

The thing is this: I don’t want these deep feelings of generosity and, when it comes down to it, community - because my family, my friends, and my colleagues are my community – to be elevated only during a particular season. So then, how can this mindset be cultivated beyond this time of year?

Some traditions around the holiday season ask us to contemplate what and for whom we are grateful, reflect on the year we are leaving behind, and consider what we want for the upcoming year. This practice connects us deeply to ourselves, one another, and to our wishes and goals. Making this a habit in our lives by practicing active reflection with more intention – on a daily, monthly, or even quarterly basis – can extend something that is the focus of a season to the entire year.

Time Together
For many of us, seasonal festivities give us the opportunity to celebrate and spend time with one another. I admit that it isn’t practical to have huge celebrations and parties every month of the year, but it is possible to spend meaningful time with those we care about and to do so on a regular basis. Dates with friends and loved ones don’t have to be expensive or elaborate.  Coffee dates, running errands together, birthday dinners, shared lunch breaks, video calls, and online chats are all chances to be generous with our time, our heart, our ideas, and to connect with those we are in community with.

As life returns to a more “regular” day-to-day schedule after the holidays, we can easily get caught up in, well, the day-to-day. We schedule so many things in our life, why not extend that routine and create reminders right into our calendar that prompt us spend time in reflection and to connect with those we care about? It is important and deserves dedicated time.

We are curious - what ways do you extend the traditions of generosity and community beyond the season? Tell us in the comments!

*I recently saw a post on Facebook that shared that between November 1 and January 15 there are about 29 holidays observed by 7 major religions!

This post was contributed by staff member Kristen H. 

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