The Gift of Good
Last month I talked about giving thanks for everything you have as a person and a writer. This time, I want to talk about giving again, but in a different way.
Giving to others.
It sounds corny, but the holiday season is all about giving and getting gifts, and while that sounds nice on the surface often it isn’t. Too many people in the world can’t give anything because they have nothing, and they can only hope that they receive something. Like food, or water, or shelter.
And even for those of us lucky enough to have those three things in adequate supply, the holidays can be a time of depression and anxiety. People dealing with illnesses, either their own or a family member. People who are alone, bereft of family and friends. People who are out of work, or afraid they might soon be. People who’ve lost everything in a fire or an earthquake or a flood or a hurricane.
Maybe it’s just someone who’s so worn down from all the bad news in the world that he or she is ready to give up on everything.
And that’s where we can make a difference. You don’t have to turn your house into a homeless shelter or tithe all your worldly possessions away. Sometimes all it takes is a simple act of kindness. Reach out to someone you know-or maybe even someone you don’t know that well, a social media “friend”—and say hello. A few nice words could be all it takes to brighten someone’s day.
Donate your time, or money, or both, to a needy cause. A few hours at an animal shelter, or just some blankets and food for the dogs and cats that are stuck there with no family to call their own. Do you know someone who’s lost a house or a job? Send them a gift card so they can buy a few essentials.
We are all writers, so why not help out your local library or school? Donate some books—your own, and any by other writers that you have laying around the house. I know I get a lot of freebies throughout the year; each December I box them up and donate them to someone. A library, a veteran’s book program, a hospital.
Is there something you can do through your job to help others? Or that your company can do? I try to donate several hours each month to helping people who are out of work by writing their resumes for free. Even if I can only do one per month, it’s a help.
Recently, my wife and I took a really big step. After two years of fostering dogs for various adoption agencies, we adopted a dog even though we hadn’t been looking to. He’s eight, and large, and he was completely unadoptable. He’d been in the shelter for almost two years. We saw him, and just couldn’t say no. So even though we understand he’s only got three or so years left to live, we want him to have a real home for the remainder of his life.
Of course, not everyone can make such a big change. And you don’t have to. Little things are just as important, and can make just as much of a difference. I know some people will pick up a stranger’s tab in a restaurant.
Maybe you can tutor someone’s child, or guest teach a writing class for free at the local school or library.
Whatever you do, not only will it make someone feel better, but you will, too—a great way to stave off your own anxiety and depression!
My short story, “The H Train,” is available now in Horror Library, volume 6, from Farolight Publishing. This is a great anthology with a strong mix of established and new writers.
I’ll also have the following short stories before the end of the year:
“Zero Hour” in C.H.U.D. Lives! (Crystal Lake Publishing)
“The Gods of War” in SNAFU: Judgement Day (Cohesion Press)
“Grave Secrets” in Tales from the Lake, volume 4 (Crystal Lake Publishing)
“Eldritch Moon” in Ares Magazine
In other news, all of my formerly out-of-print novellas and novels are now available in hard copy and e-book, several of them with nifty new covers. There’s also an omnibus available, which contains seven novellas. You can find them all on my Amazon page, along with all my other titles.