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What’s going on here?

Hmmm. If you are a Jeopardy fan like I am, this is the Final Jeopardy Question. I dare not bid anything. I just don’t know the answer. Like most of you, I am left with more questions than answers.  

Thanksgiving. Unlike any other.

This year won’t be the perfect merger of the newly arrived English with their Native hosts on Cape Cod (fiction) and won’t be even close to the Norman Rockwell version. This year will be more like a Tim Burton Thanksgiving Special. We’re accustomed to creature comforts that define the “fix” of holiday emotions and sensations and could really use “immersion in tradition” that gives us the comfort and connection we all crave. Like aloe on a sunburn. Especially now. 

Maybe we are feeling “crispy.”

Cooked. Drained. We can’t ignore the news when the COVID statistics come up, information about the vaccine, or what’s happening across the country and planet. Many of us think in exasperation, “what if,” but that doesn’t change what is. It adds to the disbelief and the “craziness” of the whole pandemic. Akin to the car crash that’s about to happen, we can’t look away… but we long for the police and ambulance to arrive—the Helpers. As Mr. Rogers always said, “look for the helpers.”

And yet here we are, on November’s Eve. If we ever “needed a little Christmas,” as Auntie Mame used to say, it’s now. Maybe it’s Kwanza or Hanukkah. Perhaps it’s Solstice. It may even just be the fireplace and spiced cider. We need a little somethin’ somethin’ for sure. Many of us remember going into Boston (a big deal) to see the festive windows, lights on Boston Common, and Jordan Marsh Enchanted Village. They gave us a boost, a mood “enhancer.” And it worked. 

This year, we need to make our own magic.

We can shy away from the traditions, rituals, and tender remembrances of years past if it’s too much. If that works and doesn’t cause misery, go for it. But there is an alternative. Do it up… BIG. Dig down and find that Holiday Spirit that has withered within. Resist the temptation to “scrap it.” Put up a different tree if the one you’ve always done just won’t work. Lights and pinecones are my go-to. Insist on home-made gifts only, or a theme. Dress up and take silly pictures and load up your Holiday Cards. Take a nighttime ride and “look at the lights.” An ancient but perfectly good activity. 

Model the whole Grinch thing.

There was something that was going on with those “Who’s” down in Whoville.” Granted they could sing “Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer” without

masks on and not socially distanced, but they had their own challenges. What they always knew… stopped. It was different and quiet and did NOT feel the same. 

We can find our voices…our Holiday Mojo.

One of the best feel-good things to do is help. Help someone who has no pie, who needs a coupon for shoveling the first snowstorm, or a meal drop off at the door. Maybe it’s kindness in our own homes, where we give each other a “COVID-break” and tolerate more than we might otherwise. We are gracious about mood and the blues. 

I am, admittedly, a holiday freak. 

The trees went up two-weeks ahead of schedule at my office. They are bare, lights only, but they have made a difference. They have lit up the darkness and lifted our moods. That was the goal, and PRESTO: it worked. It’s not silly, “schmaltzy,” or stupid. It’s real. 

We are all in need.

We can only do “what we can do,” but how do we decide what that is? Sometimes we need a push. I know I have. My exhaustion has subsided with reaching out, even in small ways. My purpose is refreshed. It sounds Disneyesque, but it works. Start small. Do one thing for one person a day. If that’s too much, start by doing this only twice a week. Small. Manageable. Get your lights out; put them up. Buy the guy behind you in line a coffee. Get a pie for your neighbor. 

These gifts of kindness do indeed bless the recipient. The hidden and sacred byproduct is that these actions bless the giver, maybe even more. Give it a try. Get your Holiday Mojo on. It beats the alternative. “Maybe Holidays don’t come from a store, perhaps, he thought, they mean a little bit more.” Be the helper.

Joanne MacInnis, RN, is the founder and president of Aberdeen Home Care, Inc., of Danvers, a concierge private duty home care agency in business since 2001. With 35 years of nursing practice, management and administration experience focused on home care and hospice, Joanne and her team specialize in advising and supporting families addressing the elders in their lives retain dignity and quality of life.

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