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Let’s face it. 2020 has been a hot mess. So, while we may be thrilled to finally see some festive lights on the tree, those lights may also be a bitter reminder of the financial, social, and physical toll this year has taken on us. As we scurry to find easy and inexpensive ways to bring joy back into our homes, I’d like to ask you to remember your elders- whether they be family, friends, neighbors, or strangers.
With age comes an entirely different set of struggles, especially this year, so they may need you more than you realize. Older folks don’t need expensive gifts. They need connection. One of the simplest ways we can connect is by remembering that kind acts and kind words cost nothing.
Here are six simple ways to speak and show your elders you care this season without breaking the bank.
Make Time for Texts/Calls/Zoom/FaceTime
Send a text, make a quick call, or fire up a Zoom call (everyone’s favorite). What does this cost you? It costs you anywhere from 5 seconds to however long you want to chat. If you choose to start a game of Trivial Pursuit over Zoom, that’s on you. The rest of us, however, can shoot a quick “Thinking of you today! Just know you are loved.” text while we’re standing in line at the store or waiting in the pick-up line at school.
I have an older neighbor who often brings our empty trash cans back up the driveway after the trash has been picked up. If I can catch his empties before he does, I do the same for him. Either way, if he gets to mine before I get to his, I always send a thank you text. He always tells me I don’t need to thank him, but I like taking that simple extra step. It’s just another opportunity to bring a smile to his face by simply telling him he’s appreciated and needed.
Holiday cards (even if it’s just one or two and not the normal pile you usually send), a thinking of you card, a slip of paper in your junk drawer, a recipe you ripped out of a magazine- whatever you can find to write a quick personal sentiment on, slap a stamp on that sucker and send it on its way. People, especially the older crowd (and me) love mail. Back in the day, this was one of their only means of communication, so it’s a nostalgic touch that is incredibly simple yet always appreciated.
Share Baked Goods
Okay, so it technically costs something to deliver this type of kindness. However, even the most penny-pinched people will most likely bake up something seasonal and delicious in the upcoming weeks. So, why not make a double batch or share a small portion? Deliver them to your elders or even a local nursing home, ensuring they accept homemade goodies before you bake. If you’re not a baker, but you’re okay to spend a few bucks, buy something festive and delicious and shoot them a quick text letting them know you left them a treat on their doorstep. Baked goodness, delivered with some kind words, may just bring the smile they need that day.
Offer to Drive Them Somewhere
Maybe the older folks in your life need to buy a gift or ingredients to bake up their own recipes. If they’re like many of my elders, they secretly cringe at the thought of navigating a crowded parking lot- especially during the holiday scramble. Offer to drive them somewhere. I’m sure they would love your company during your quick jaunt to the store. Easier yet, offer to run the errand for them. Hearing these kind words from you may take a major weight off their shoulders.
Offer to Help Them Do Something Online
If you’re like me, you can buy something on Amazon with your eyes closed. For our older friends, it’s a 15-step process filled with anxiety and frustration. And nobody needs any more of either of those in their life this year. Offer to place the online order for them.
Maybe they need their ingredients for the baked goodies discussed above, but you live across the country and can’t physically take them to the store. Or, quite possibly, it’s simply not safe for these older folks to be out and about in our current COVID climate. Offer to place an online grocery order delivery for them. Simply find out exactly what they need (remembering they may be partial to a particular brand), when they need it, and then find the store that can deliver it to them. Whether or not you accidentally forget to ask for their credit card information is up to you.
Offer Up Some Acts of Service
Is your husband or teenager out on the ladder today placing bright and happy bows on your light fixtures? Why not drag the ladder next door and offer to do the same for your neighbor? Maybe they have a tree that they’re unable to physically put up this year, or they just need someone to reach their favorite snowman that lives high on a shelf. They or their caregivers will appreciate your simple act of service and the kindness behind it. Please don’t deny them their snowman.
The old “it’s the thought that counts” adage has been around since the dawn of time for a reason. People don’t need stuff. People need people and the kindness that comes from them. Even when the holidays are over, and we begin this next year, we can build a better community by remembering kind words cost nothing but can often mean everything.
*This blog post may contain affiliate links, including Amazon affiliate links. These don’t cost you anything, but they allow us to continue running this site and providing free content for our readers.