I'm writing to you from the cold and foggy U.S. of A today, enjoying the lovely seasonal weather and the warmest blankets I can find. It's been a rocky couple of weeks for me and my family, with the loss of another beloved pet and the disruption of a lot of holiday plans.
I still managed to make it out onto the road for my yearly trip, and I will be settled here until the end of the first week of January. My podcast schedule has been put on hold for the duration, as I mentioned to my paid subscribers before, but I hope to be back on track as soon as I get home.
Hopefully, you guys can expect the next episode on the 12th of January. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, there's so much going on in the world right now that it's damn near impossible to keep track. Another tape surfaced of Donald Trump's alleged election interference, Iowa's Governor has opted out of the summer food program for low-income families, and the wars around the world continue to roll on.
This is a difficult time of year for many people. We all know what holiday gatherings can be like; political disagreements, personal grudges and drama queens stirring the pot for the sake of their own amusement.
And then there are places where people cannot afford a holiday meal at all. If they celebrate Christmas, their tree is bare and there are no gifts gathered around its feet.
Even if the holiday you celebrate does not include gifts (if, indeed, you celebrate any at all) there are still plenty of expenses that can be difficult to manage. And that's just the monetary cost. The expenditure of energy and time to make everything just right is also hefty in the extreme.
For those who have nobody to celebrate with, this time of year can be exponentially trying on the mind.
I don't raise these points to take away from your holiday cheer, but rather to remind us all of the importance of empathy and compassion at this time of year. It's easy to forget to look past our immediate surroundings and see what's going on behind other household's closed doors.
There is a reason that we call this the season of giving, and it isn't just to do with presents wrapped in gaudy paper. It's also to do with extending an offer of help. Sharing our bounty and good fortune with our community, as humans have always done.
Don't fret; if you have no money to give, you don't need to bankrupt yourself for the sake of charitable giving. There are many ways you can contribute to your community's needs without money changing hands.
You could choose to volunteer, either at charities, soup kitchens or even shelters. You could offer to host celebrations at your home if others are struggling to make things work. You can lend your time to help with family troubles, such as providing transport and helping with childcare for those who have a thousand and one things to get done.
You can simply reach out to people you know and make sure they're okay. Offer to spend time with them this holiday season if you know they will otherwise be alone.
The point is not to throw yourself under the bus for the sake of others. But sometimes, the very best gift you can give is the gift of time and energy to the people around you.
I wish you a very wondrous and happy holidays.