Opening Your Heart and Healing at the Holidays

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There’s no doubt that this holiday season has a different look to it, but fortunately the City of Bryan is filled with options and choices for things to do early in the month to prepare your hearts and minds for Christmas giving. On Friday, Dec. 4th, beginning at 5:30 pm, you can find free musical and dance/choir performances in front of ACME Glass and at the Palace Theatre.

Many downtown Bryan restaurant windows reflect Christmas joy. With so many exciting arts and craft stores downtown on Main and Bryan Streets, you can solve your entire season shopping list in one day and enjoy great meals as well.

On Saturday, Dec. 5th, you can visit the EXPO Center for the second day of the Premiere Market, a giant local craft and creation show that benefits the Brazos Valley Symphony each year. If you didn’t find everything on your list on Friday, take it to the EXPO on Saturday. It’s only $5 for a two-day shopping pass and you’ll find jewelry, home accessories, gourmet foods, and clothing. It’s also the perfect way to Shop Local, which is what we always recommend, as we all take care of one another here at home.

Thinking of others this time of year­­—do you have an angel from the Salvation Army tree in the mall? Because of COVID this year, instead of their Blue Angel tree, the City of Bryan Police Department requests donations to the Salvation Army or St. Vincent de Paul, both of whom are helping Christmas happen for many deserving families. Several churches also have families they adopt at this season who would appreciate specific types of gifts. The Brazos Valley Food Bank had a wonderful recent food drive, but by New Year’s, there will be many who will need to replenish for their families.

Whether you make a gift in honor of someone you’re missing this year, or carrying on your favorite tradition, in their memory, you are creating Christmas, and healing in your own heart.

Have you started decorating your home yet? Or have you been slow to get there while you try to deal with the loss(es) in your family this year? One of the best ways to make a new experience for yourself and those you love after a death is to get the lights out as step one. Maybe not outside yet, but for sure, inside. A recent article by Agostina Chemello on “Getting Your Home and Family Christmas-Ready” has some excellent ideas. Check it out here.

Around town, there are so many great ways to help families by helping the children in their families with gifts. One that is so important and because it happens every year, we might just take it for granted is Radio MASH (Make a Smile Happen)! Thirty seven years ago, the radio group known today as Brazos Valley Communications brought DJs from all of their radio stations together at the corner of Harvey Rd. and Rudder Freeway. Under tents on loan from an area Army base, the scenes from the TV show, “M*A*S*H” were set up so you could bring new and very, very gently used toys for children of the Brazos Valley. What you give here stays right here. This year the toy drive is going on all weekend and through Monday. Please keep them in mind this season.

And if you’re in the stores shopping for gifts, please remember the WTAW Radio campaign “Shop Local” as it is more important than ever to keep our spending funds local. Your purchase might just make the difference in a business staying open in 2021. Buy gift cards from local restaurants and that will help you, the ones you love, and the small business owners!

If you’ve lived here long enough you know of the Brazos de Dios Harley Owners Group Foundation by The Ranch Harley-Davidson that has been here since 1988 to “serve struggling families during the Christmas season.” This wonderful event has been going on annually and they help 10-15 families each year with not just toys—they provide clothes, books, bedding, furniture, and it’s such a cool sight to see them driving through town with their motorcycles decorated for the Holidays and with giant stuffed animals as co-passengers. For more information or to help, visit here.

Since this is the Advent Season now, area churches are offering special programs of music, carols, and worship experiences that help you find that spirit again. For example this Sunday, December 6, is the second Sunday of Advent and at A&M United Methodist Church at the 8:30 am service, they’ll host the annual Hanging of the Greens program that is so beloved here. You can watch on Facebook live streaming if it’s safer for you to be at home this season.

Gifts are hard to shop for when it’s not a good idea to be in the stores if you are of a certain age range or health level, but one solution that is so prized is if you take the time to write letters or find an old photo from decades ago to gift to your family members. The Greatest Generation is wonderful about taking and keeping pictures of important family moments. Those of us who just grab our phones and snap a picture have thousands of pictures we rarely print out or look at again.

If you have the time to write up the stories of your family members’ lives, it is an absolutely wonderful gift you can give now, that can be added to by generations who come later to help fill out your family tree. The time you give will be the gift, the precious memories are something that no one can ask you in 30 years after you’re gone and people have forgotten to ask. It costs nothing to give but is priceless as a gift. Something to think about!

Time is a gift in another way. Even though seniors in residential communities are basically not able to visit with us, they love “mail call” every day. If you encourage some of your friends that are your age to remember your senior with a card, give them the address and room number, and you will definitely make someone’s day extra special. It takes so little, we think, and yet, it will mean more to our family and senior friends than anything inside a box marked Tiffany’s.

Throughout each challenge in our life that includes loss, we are gifted with the opportunity to model faith for others who are watching us for clues how we handle death and losing loved ones at the holiday season. We put on a brave face for the children of course, but true healing comes when we can feel like we’ve done something for someone that truly matters.

Their excitement and appreciation for our simple acts of kindness actually end up making us smile. Feeling a bit better about our own loss, one step at a time, is a process and every day gets easier when we give. In giving is our receiving. In processing our healing path it’s less difficult because we make an action plan and stick with it, rather than sitting silently and focusing on our own losses.

That’s why our parents taught us, and we’ve had several losses of loved ones very early in our lives and these steps have made life a lot easier for us at the holidays. If you have a tradition or a special act you do at the holidays to help you heal, please share it with us in the comments. As we say all the time, sometimes without thinking, simply by reflex, may this holiday season bring you healing, joy, and peace. You are a gift to so many when you are there in their lives and that’s all you have to do is be yourself. You are the best gift a heart needs to heal at the holidays—remember that.

Happy Holidays from our family to yours,

Cody & Chelsea Jones, Owners & Community Members

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