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Making Christmas Enjoyable for Others

Apr 9, 2008
If you have ever been alone, or confined, at Christmas time, you know how empty the season can be, and how grateful and happy you would have been if cheer and loving-kindness had been brought to you. Every Christmas, in every community, there are those who need such attention and would welcome and appreciate it deeply. Either as individuals or through organizations we all have almost unlimited opportunity to serve the needs of others, at this time of year. City and country alike, in any area, have some or all of the following places, where need is apparent:

Home for the Aging, School for the Blind, School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Hospital, Mental Hospital
Prison, Penitentiary, Prison Camp, Home for the Needy, Home for Children, Home for Crippled Children, Army Installation, Community Center

In addition to all these, there are those who live alone shut-ins, the destitute, the aged. Sick or well, in need or not, they have in common a desperate loneliness which can, at Christmas, be relieved.

General Suggestions For Helping These Folk

1. Approach any of these people as having dignity, and as worthy of your respect. Don't condescend.

2. Give them personal attention. Everyone wants and enjoys personal attention; these folk usually have a special need of it. Perhaps have a name tag for everyone; this will enable you to speak to them by name as often as possible.

3. Be sure you have your signals clear with "the office," or the administration, where institutions are involved. Check with them well enough in advance for time, timing, and the suitability of the program you have planned.

4. In advance, if possible, send someone to check on the physical facilities the availability of tables (if you are to have crafts), running water, kitchen use, lighting, everything you will need to set up, entertain, and clear away.

5. Find out how many will be involved. This is of great importance. Prepare for the maximum number of persons who might attend, but do not count on this number for the success or failure of your program, since some will probably be absent or ill or occupied on the day of your visit.

6. In the case of hospitals, mental hospitals, and homes for the aging, be sure to know, in advance, which persons should not be disturbed, and how active or noisy a program is appropriate to the group. Consider carefully the handicap involved, if some are handicapped.

The very best method when planning for an institution is to have someone from its staff working with you on every phase of the program.

7. Keep the plan flexible. If there are several people in your group who will lead, perform, or demonstrate, establish one of them as the leader and give him the authority to shorten the program or modify it in any way without consultation. The situation on the spot may indicate, without warning, that changes should be made.

8. Get there early. Many of these people will be almost pathetically eager for your program, and will have been anticipating it for days or weeks, during what is probably a routine, uneventful existence. Do not by being tardy allow the slightest alarm or confusion or anxiety to arise in the group on what should be an afternoon or evening of pure pleasure. The practical reasons for being early are obvious; your program will without question run more smoothly and successfully.

9. Be sure that your team understands thoroughly the principles you will establish during the program. Each one in your group should understand that your purpose is to create fun and good, warm feelings, and therefore, in games or participating stunts, the important thing is happiness, not skills. What does matter is that everyone has a chance to be part of the program.

10. Encourage the groups you wish to entertain to do things for themselves, if possible. Putting on a show for them has value, of course, but nothing will lift their spirits more than their own contributions to the program.

Enjoy your time with these groups, and if possible, visit them as well during the year.
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