I hope this blog finds you enjoying the hustle and bustle of the Holiday season. This is my absolute FAVORITE time of the year! I love the decorations, family time, tacky sweaters (I have an impressive collection of Christmas attire), TV specials, holiday movie marathons, FOOD, parties, music, plays, concerts, shopping…..the whole ball of wax (as my Grandma would say)! But what I love the most are the exciting opportunities to show God’s love in practical ways. A lot of my friends with disabilities are often overlooked and not included in many of the fun holiday traditions that you and I take for granted. So this year let’s make it an INCLUSIVE Christmas. Here are some ideas to get you started….
- Relational Respite – Respite is the number one felt need of families affected by disability. Do you know a family who has a child with a disability? Why not offer to come over and hang out with the kids while Mom and Dad pop out to catch a movie, grab some dinner, or maybe finish some Christmas Shopping? Just by giving parents the “gift” of a few hours to do whatever they please you can make a big difference for a very deserving family!
- Children’s Hospital Outreach – Several years ago I had a job at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital as a patient attendant. One year I had to work a shift on Christmas day as a part of my holiday rotation. It was one of the most difficult shifts I ever worked. I was struck by the hundreds of families who were spending the holiday holding vigil by their child’s bedside. One family made it a part of their Christmas tradition to cook a HUGE feast and bring it to the ICU unit where their son was treated years before. They remembered how hard it was to spend the holidays in the hospital and continued to reach out to families in that situation. So perhaps you love to cook and have the gift of hospitality. Gather some friends and cook up a feast and take it to a local hospital or pediatrics wing. Or bake an extra tray of cookies with your typical holiday baking and deliver it to a weary family camped out in the hospital lobby. Trust me when I say that your kindness will be deeply appreciated.
- Group Home Christmas Bash – Everyone loves a good holiday party and folks who live in group homes are no exception! What if you and your small group threw a Christmas party for a local group home? Brainstorm some of your favorite holiday past times and have fun with it! Maybe you could have a Christmas Movie Marathon complete with popcorn, snacks and a collection of holiday favorites for the residents to choose from. Are you a baker? Why not bake up dozens of cookies and pack up all the fixins’ for residents to decorate their own cookies. The possibilities are endless!
- Adopt a Family – Many families affected by disability struggle financially from mounting medical bills. What if your family sponsored a family for Christmas? Perhaps you could purchase presents to make sure they have something under the tree on Christmas morning? Or maybe you could purchase the groceries for the holiday feast? This Thanksgiving we (The Hensleys) called the local board of DDS and asked if they knew of any families who would benefit from a turkey and all the trimmings. They gladly connected us with a single mom raising seven kids and we delivered the food to them a few days ahead of time so they could have a fabulous holiday meal. Consider coming alongside a family this Christmas in a BIG way!
Hopefully that’s enough to get you thinking about the possibilities! Later this week we’ll look at some more creative ways to include everyone this holiday season!
Here’s to Changing the World….
Harmony “The Elf”