Finding simple ways to bring holiday joy


By Kristi Langenbacher

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The holiday season is upon us, and for many, the joy is in giving.

My mother is a crafter. She has been making, sewing, baking, scrapbooking, creating and crafting for as long as I can remember. And, she is happily busy this time of year. The things that she creates are unique, personal and heartfelt, and clearly a lot of love goes into each and every gift.

And for her, the process of creating something for someone else gives her a great deal of joy, as does the actual giving of the gift. She loves to watch people open their gifts, and I think she mentally records each reaction to the gifts she gives.

I may not be as talented as my mother, but my three sisters and I did inherit her love of creating things for others. In turn, we have passed that love onto our own children, who now enjoy making things for family, friends, teachers, and even strangers.

This time of year, like many others, our family is looking for creative ways to support the Coast Guard community. And, even though we might not be able to make something for each person, we can show our support in a variety of ways over the holidays.

We did some research this year, and discovered the Stockings for Recruits program at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, New Jersey. The program was started to bring joy to the Coast Guard recruits who are participating in training, otherwise known as boot camp, during the holiday season. The stockings are handcrafted and stuffed by members of the non-profit Jersey Cape Military Spouses’ Club and given out on Christmas Eve with cookies and hot cocoa.

Tears usually fill the room as the recruits enjoy a break from training to read holiday cards and special notes from family members, local school children and other donors. Also included are gift cards, snacks, and local mementos to commemorate the recruits' time spent in the area.

For more information on the Stockings for Recruits program, or to make a donation, visit the Spouses’ Club web site at jcmilitaryspousesclub.org.

Donating to local non-profit organizations that support the Coast Guard community is another option during the holidays and throughout the year. The Elizabeth City Base Chapel and Chief Petty Officers Association often accept gift cards valued at $20 or less and distribute them to Coast Guard families and members who need them the most.

Nearly everyone in Elizabeth City knows a Coast Guard member or someone who works on the base and could help them connect with a member to honor this holiday season. Handmade cards, crafts and treats make a wonderfully personal gift, and provide families with the opportunity to involve their children in doing something for others. It can be especially important to those who are away from their own families over the holidays.

This time of year, more than ever, it’s important to realize the impact our actions can have on others. Sometimes simple things like saying hello, buying a cup of coffee, or even inviting someone to join in on holiday events can bring joy to the season for people who are missing someone during the holidays.

Maya Angelou understood the importance of what we do and say to other people. Angelou said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Kristi Langenbacher is a Coast Guard spouse and writes about military family life.