I don’t know about you guys but I have been in the mood to break out my Christmas decor since we walked in the door from Trick or Treating on Halloween. I’m just ready! Usually I don’t even think about Christmas decorations until Thanksgiving passes but I am seeing so many more friends and family members decorating early this year so I know I'm not alone in this!
I’m feeling like maybe it’s the current state of the universe that has made us all so ready for the joy that the holiday season brings. I haven’t ordered my turkey yet but I’m breaking out the tinsel and the tree. My garland is hung and the cozy Christmas blankets have come out of hiding. There is just something magical about Christmas. It's not the gifts or the food or even the decorations but a sense of togetherness and love fills the airspace. As I drive up and down my street and see more and more Christmas decor I can't help but wonder why everyone seems to be so eager for Christmas this year.
It seems to me that as the years fly by we are seeing more school shootings and hate crimes. We're seeing more controversy and political opinion blasted on both sides. We're seeing natural disasters on the news and in our own towns that leave us breathless and sometimes even homeless. We're reading news articles about cyber attacks and attacks at concerts and hearing things about pending nuclear attacks. Attacks, attacks attacks. And we've heard heart wrenching words like "ethnic cleansing.”
And no, this isn't a blog post to say "poor us, we have to hear about this” when there are people in the world who are actually experiencing this…
This is a blog post to say that human to human we are hearing these things and reading these articles and we are hurting for these people and fearful for our own reasons and it's been an unforgettable year.
But you know what hasn't changed one single iota from last year or 100 years ago for that matter? Jesus.
Jesus is still the same. He is still our constant. He is still our savior and our grace and our Christmas. His promises are still valid even in times of terror and sadness. I know that this is why I am so excited to decorate for Christmas this year. I know that my heart needs it and that I need to soak in this season just a few extra weeks this year. So I'm going to decorate my tree. I'm going to string the lights and inflate that 4 foot wiener dog dressed like Santa in my front yard because we all need some extra joy this year. My joy comes from Jesus.
But with all of this hatred and hurt and all of this sorrow we can pull out our WWJD bracelets and know that we can make a difference.
I've referenced the Five Love Languages several times on here so you might already know that Acts of Service and Gifts are two love languages that I associate with. Specifically Acts of Service! That's where I meet Jesus and where my joy lives. There have been so many opportunities this year to give back because there have been so many terrible tragedies this year. But our bake sales and clothing drives do not need to happen within the first 7 days of Hurricane Maria. We can still run a race to raise money for mental health research even without a mental health crisis or shooting. We are still able to donate baby carriers to the Syrian mamas even though they aren't they most shared story on your Facebook feed this week. We're called to love and be the light. Not just when we see the need or when something terrible happens but every single day. We're called to love on the orphans and the widows. We're called to forgive and serve. We're called to share and to give. So what are we waiting for? We certainly don't need to wait for the next tragedy. I'm making a point to keep more Acts of Service in our daily lives.
I've rounded up 30 amazing ways for you to spread a little joy this holiday season right here on our beautiful little sandbar. And since we all seem to be decorating early this year, our holiday season can be filled with ways to GIVE and to LOVE like Jesus.
Make care packages for the local homeless.
Take a bag of groceries or a check to the food pantry.
Take a long walk on the beach and collect trash.
Sponsor an Angel Tree child or family by donating gifts.
Volunteer your time with the Outer Banks Hospital.
Organize a pet food drive with your kiddos.
Volunteer with The Town of Duck for the Yuletide Celebration.
Contact the Salvation Army to be a bell ringer.
Kill Devil Hills is looking for donations for their holiday collection.
Assist the Town of Manteo with their Christmas Light Up Night.
Become a Child’s Advocate In Court for Guardian ad Litem in both Dare and Currituck County.
Volunteer with the Elizabethan Gardens to help with their holiday events.
Volunteer with the National Park Service
Volunteer with NEST
Volunteer with the North Carolina Aquarium.
Volunteer with Meals on Wheels or make a meal for an elderly neighbor, just because.
Offer to babysit for a single mom so she can go to a holiday party or shop for her children.
Drop off toys to the Kitty Hawk Starbucks in the Toys for Tots bin.
Sponsor a child through Dare County Parks and Rec or the Outer Banks YMCA.
Contact your local church to assist with their Fall clean up.
Volunteer with Beach Nourishment Planning.
Contact the Dare County Children and Youth Partnership.
Coach a Dare County Parks and Recreation Youth team.
Contact one of the many Rotary Club's on the Outer Banks for a list of volunteer opportunities within the organization.
Volunteer to walk dogs, snuggle kittens or take food to the Dare County SPCA in Manteo.
Contact Ruthie's Kitchen to make a meal for their soup kitchen each week.
Volunteer with Meals on Wheels of Dare County to take meals to the elderly.
Take the residents of Spring Arbor care packages and sit down to listen to them.
Volunteer your time with the Turkey Trot or another one of the Outer Banks Runcations sporting events.
Somehow we are all fortunate enough to live here where so many of the issues in this world are often unnoticed, let's give our little sandbar some TLC. What are your favorite ways to give back to the community?