|December 2023 Vol 5 Issue 12
Tell Your Story Newsletter (TYSN):
Specializing in Entrepreneurial & Linguistic Storytelling
Let me teach you to tell your story!
WELCOME Mid-December, 2023!
In contrast to last year, when winter started early (with snow that stayed in November), this year, we’ve had next to no snow and very few days of temperatures below -10 or 15 degrees Celcius!
However, even though a “brown Christmas” may be on the horizon and cause us worry for future drought, there is much to enjoy and be grateful for, as we prepare for Hanukkah, Advent, Christmas and other holidays, this season.
Through the “Advent Appeal” program in my church, we have continued our annual practice of collecting clothing, warm blankets, food and hygiene supplies on behalf of the city’s homeless and at-risk people.
This month’s “Storyteller’s Corner” returns us to an “Advent Miracle” that one of my church’s organizers witnessed four years ago, but which reminds us that small acts of kindness can have a miraculous effect on others.
In spite of the soaring inflation at our grocery stores, gas stations and the empty shelves of staples often blamed on “Covid,” I hope that you, good reader, have warm, safe and stable homes, not just this season, but throughout the year.
And if you (like me) are so blessed, please do consider donating to those who lack basic necessities, whether through your “office pool,” the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign, or similar work done by your faith or neighbourhood communities.
Since our global community has now entered its fourth Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s seasons in the grip of the Coronavirus, as well as other respiratory infections, this year will not be a “ho-ho-ho” holiday time for many. Our hospitals are teeming with infections, and medical tests and timely treatment have been delayed for many by months or even years. Our medical specialists and workers, too, are facing unprecedented levels of burnout, along with the collapse of our healthcare system.
So in this last issue of the year, “Article One” revisits “Coping with Christmas,” a publication of the American Hospice Foundation (AHF). Coping may be the “new normal,” in these expensive, late Covid days.
For those of us who care for others on a daily basis and/or who face complex health problems ourselves, the AHF reminds us to be aware of our own emotional needs and avoid burnout.
Despite the challenges that fill the daily news, I hope, good readers, that you’ll find at least a little time to enjoy the final days of this year, giving thanks for the family, friends, mentors and clients who grace our lives.
May you find peace this holiday season; and good health, happiness and prosperity in 2024.
IN THIS ISSUE:
ARTICLE 1: Feeling the Christmas Blues? Here are Some Solutions . . . .
A Local “Advent Miracle” Story
Article One: Feeling the Christmas (or Holiday) Blues? Here are Some Solutions . . .
For many of us, even if we have been blessed to enjoy Advent, Christmas, Hanukkah or other spiritual traditions at this time of year, the holiday season can be painful.
The pain may come from to the loss of a loved one, a job, separation from a “significant other,” health or financial difficulties, the excessive pressure to buy and give, and so on. The so-called “holiday season” can in reality be anything but “ho-ho-ho.”
This holiday survival guide, written originally by the American Hospice Foundation, offers some ideas that may help us as we plan (or choose not to plan) holiday festivities. Please read on and share with others who may need this. And know you are not alone and that it is not only fine, but best, if you can live through the holiday season on your own terms.
Christmas or Holiday cards (choose one like these):
1. Mail as usual, or email to save on stationery and postage
2. Shorten your list
3. Include a Christmas letter that you’ve written
4. Skip it this year
Christmas or Holiday music (choose one like these):
1. Enjoy as usual
2. Shop early, to avoid Christmas music
3. Avoid turning the radio on
4. Listen to the music and allow yourself to feel sad (or to cry)
Decorations (choose one like these):
1. Decorate as usual
2. Let others do it
3. Choose not to have decorations
4. Have a special decoration for a loved one, who may have died or left
5. Modify your decorations
6. Make changes, such as putting up an artificial tree
7. Ask for help from others
Shopping (choose one like these):
1. Shop as usual
2. Shop early
3. Make your gifts by hand
4. Make a list of gifts to buy
5. Shop online
6. Ask for help wrapping gifts
7. Shop with a friend
8. Give cash
9. Give baked goods
10. Ask for help
11. Go giftless and (if possible) make a donation to charity
Traditions (choose one like these):
1. Keep the old traditions
2. Don’t attend Christmas parties
3. Open gifts on the usual day
4. Attend a worship service
5. Attend a totally different place of worship
6. Visit the cemetery
7. Attend Christmas or holiday parties
8. Go to an entirely new place
9. Open gifts at another time
10. Do not attend a worship service
11. Light a special candle to honour your loved one
12. Bake the usual foods
13. Modify your baking and cooking, to save money
14. Buy the usual foods
15. Spent quiet time alone, in meditation or relaxation
Christmas or Holiday Dinner (choose one like these):
1. Prepare as usual
2. Invite friends over
3. Eat in a different location of the house
4. Go out to dinner, possibly with someone else who is alone
5. Eat alone, while listening to favourite music
6. Change the time of dinner
7. Have a buffet/potluck and share the clean-up, after
8. Ask for help
Post-Christmas and New Year’s Day (choose one like these):
1. Spend the days as usual
2. Avoid New Year’s parties
3. Spend time with only a few friends
4. Write in a journal about your hopes for the next year
5. Go out of town
6. Host a New Year’s Party
7. Go to a movie, watch a movie on a streaming service or even borrow one from the library
8. Go to bed early and feel refreshed the next morning for the new year ahead
And now it’s your turn: Does the Christmas, Hanukkah or holiday season present challenges and pain for you? Please consider some of the above options you have to experience the holidays on your own terms.
And remember that crisis counselling is available 24/7, at number 9-8-8.
STORYTELLERS’ CORNER . . . .
STORYTELLERS’ CORNER: Words, Stories and Riddles on Writing and Editing . . .
This Month, a Story: A Local “Advent Miracle”
A couple of years ago, Alan, a friend and colleague in my faith community, shared a remarkable story of how our church’s seasonal gift donations benefited a downtown charity that helps victims of abuse and homelessness.
He says: “One spring I went into the [church] parlour and noticed that the Advent gifts still sat where we’d left them, last December, since the office of the recipient agency was never open. I had phoned, left messages and visited in person multiple times, only to find the office closed.”
He continues: “As I was driving past one day, the following spring, I decided to give it one last chance and showed up to the agency, just after lunch. They were open!
It was obvious that the staff had just come from a meeting. One of the folk there came over and asked me what I wanted. I told her that I was from the church and had some very belated Advent gifts for them.
She looked confused when I said gifts, but when I said that the gifts consisted of toiletries and other items, it changed to surprise. She asked how many, and I told her that the trunk of my car was full. Again, there was a look of surprise on her face. She spoke with the director and then went into the back and got a small cart. We then went down the car and loaded it up. It was a small cart, so I carried the extra packages that didn’t fit.
When we got back to the office, she took the items into the back and the director came over and thanked me profusely. She told me that the topic of conversation at the meeting they’d just finished was how they were going to find toiletries to fill packages for some of their clients. They had a few items, but not nearly enough, and there wasn’t money in the budget to purchase more. They left the meeting wondering how they’d find the remaining items, and that was when I walked in!
We called it Christmas in June! We could have delivered the gifts the prior December, when other churches were doing the same and when the need was largely met. But by delivering them in the spring, we met a great need at a time when others had stopped giving.
We can put this down to coincidence or fate or luck. I look at it as an Advent miracle and a sign that our Higher Power is alive, well and living among us.”
And now it’s your turn: Have holiday activities of years past surprised you with any small miracles? Please write in and I’ll share your stories in a future issue!
|Heartfelt thanks go out in this final issue of 2023 to friends, colleagues, followers and mentors who enable me to facilitate language (ESL) classes; who respond to my blog postings and monthly newsletter; who have coached or encouraged me to achieve greater clarity in my entrepreneurial goals; and who have lightened some of the weight of elderly caregiving that I regularly carry.
With apologies to anyone whose name I temporarily forget, here are some of the truly beautiful people who grace my professional and personal lives:
Chief Visionary Officer, mentor and friend, Monica Kreuger, and the amazing team at the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship (PSE); English and ESL teacher, extraordinaire, Steve Cavan; Saskatchewan’s best entrepreneurial coach (and PSE facilitator), Deanna Litz, of Powerful Nature Coaching & Consulting, Inc.; (Extraordinary) Minister of Word and Sacrament, Rev. Roberto De Sandoli of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church; Amazing writer and AI specialist, Ashleigh Mattern (of Vireo Productions), and the equally amazing Julie Barnes (of Julie Barnes Creative Services) for co-leading the monthly writers’ group that we pioneered, more than 10 years ago. Fellow writers, including both Ashleigh and Julie, along with Merle (Massie) McGowan, Adele Paul, Ashlyn George and Tara Kalyn, who keep pushing the envelope as they write (and publish) their remarkable work.
Thanks are also due to Kanchan Manek and the Manek family of the Raj Manek Mentorship Program, who since 1998 have provided monthly seminars and facilitated mentoring relationships between junior entrepreneurs and seasoned mentors on the Prairies; and to fellow alumni of the PSE’s startSMART program, including Christina Cherneskey, Megan Kent, Barry Frain, Malvina Rapko, amongst others.
Thanks also go to my students, including newcomers to Saskatoon, and a citizen in France, whose conversation and studies vivify my life.
At a time when senior care in our province is in a collapse by underfunding, and when many special (private) care homes offer inadequate support at high costs, the properties of Luther Care in Saskatoon provide a bulwark from the storm.
As we look back over the past year, while losses and disappointments have been challenging, the support of the above people and organizations have given me much to be grateful for: Merci beaucoup, mes amies!
Between 2011 and December 2018, Elizabeth Shih Communications chronicled the stories of B2B marketing and communications on the Prairies and across the country.
Effective January 1, 2019, I rebranded as “Storytelling Communications.” I now help newcomers and economic immigrants to Canada to secure better jobs; I help SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) close more sales by communicating more effectively; and I help major companies tell their legacy stories.
Interested in learning more? Please contact me through my CASL-compliant website.
After I receive your message, I’ll be pleased to discuss services with you!
Please visit my website for more information (www.
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