Feeling the Christmas (or holiday) blues? Here are some solutions . . . .

December 2021 Vol 3 Issue 12

Tell Your Story Newsletter (TYSN):

Specializing in Entrepreneurial and Organizational Storytelling

Let me tell your story!


ARTICLE 1: Feeling the Christmas  (or holiday) blues? Here are some solutions . . . .


A local “advent miracle” story 




Welcome Mid-December, 2021

We have had a mild winter thus far on the Prairies. But winter’s hoary breath and arctic temperatures are forecasted to return next week, when -15 C will be our high for at least several days. The inevitable cold of a Prairie winter is a particular threat to the disadvantaged in our province: as I compose this annual Christmas issue, the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC), with support from several local charities and not-for-profit organizations, is about to open a new, temporary homeless shelter in downtown Saskatoon. The goal is to get some of the region’s most vulnerable citizens out of the cold. Longer-term supports are also being planned.

Through the “Advent Appeal” program at my church, once again this year, we are collecting clothing, warm blankets, and hygiene supplies on behalf of the homeless and at-risk people who fill Saskatoon’s shelters. This month’s “Storyteller’s Corner” reminds me that small acts of kindness can have a miraculous effect on others in these shelters.

Notwithstanding the soaring inflation at our grocery stores and gas stations, I hope that you, good reader, have a warm, safe and stable living environment, not just at Christmas or Hanukkah, 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 community.

Since our global community has now entered its second Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s seasons in the grip of the ever mercurial Coronavirus, this year will especially not be a “ho-ho-ho” time for many; too many have lost family members, careers, timely medical treatments and more.

So in this last newsletter of 2021, I return to “Coping with Christmas,” a publication of the American Hospice Foundation (AHF). 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 attuned to our own emotional needs, not least when we face compassion fatigue or burnout.

Despite the challenges that fill the news, I hope that you can find some time to enjoy the last weeks of 2021, giving thanks for the family and/or friends and neighbours who bring grace to our lives.

I wish you peace this holiday season and as much good health, happiness and prosperity as possible, in 2022.



Principal, Storytelling Communications



Article One: Feeling the Christmas or Holiday Blues? Here are Some Solutions . . . 

For many of us, even if we have been raised to observe Christmas or Hanukkah as a blessing, the holiday season can be painful.

The pain may come from 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 know that you are not alone!

Christmas or Holiday cards (choose one):

  1. Mail as usual
  2. Shorten your list
  3. Include a Christmas letter that you’ve written
  4. Skip it this year

Christmas or Holiday music (choose one):

  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):

  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 an artificial tree
  7. Ask for help from a friend or family

Shopping (choose one):

  1. Shop as usual
  2. Shop early
  3. Make your gifts
  4. Make a list of gifts to buy
  5. Shop online and through catalogues
  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 make a donation to charity

Traditions (choose one):

  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 scaled back Christmas 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
  14. Buy the usual foods
  15. Spent quiet time alone, in meditation or relaxation

Christmas or Holiday Dinner (choose one):

  1. Prepare as usual
  2. Invite friends who are in your bubble, 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
  6. Change time of dinner
  7. Have a scaled back buffet/potluck
  8. Ask for help

Post-Christmas and New Year’s Day (choose one):

  1. Spend the days as usual
  2. Avoid those New Year’s parties that are going ahead (in Covid times)
  3. Spend time with a few friends in your bubble
  4. Write in a journal about your hopes for the next year
  5. Go out of town
  6. Host a scaled back New Year’s Party
  7. Go to a movie, watch a movie on a streaming service or even borrow a movie 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 or Hanukkah 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 Mobile Crisis (Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service) is available, 24/7 at (306) 933-6200.



STORYTELLER’S CORNER:  Words, stories and riddles  on writing and editing . . .

This month: a local “advent miracle” story 

Last Christmas, Alan, a friend and colleague in my faith community shared a remarkable story of how our faith community’s seasonal gift donations benefited a downtown charity that helps victims of abuse and homelessness.


Alan says that two years ago, he “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 spring after, 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 were not 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 and 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 this month go to ESL teacher, Steve Cavan (former CEO of Paddock Wood Brewery), who since last summer has mentored me, as I joined the Chinese ESL/EFL online teaching platform, italki.com.  Steve is a font of knowledge both of the English language and of online teaching. He has been a selfless advisor on the many issues that can arise in online teaching.

Thank you, good friend, and blessings (or karma!) on you!


Thanks also go out this month to bookkeeper, Heather Stuart, whose intelligence and knowledge of tax rules always help me administer my small business books well.


And another note of gratitude, as always, to Chief Visionary Officer, Monica Kreuger, and the amazing team at the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship (PSE). Together they continue to advocate for the welfare and training of many of our province’s entrepreneurs (including me), at both start-up and intermediate levels.


Special thanks also go to Saskatoon creative entrepreneur Sharon Givens, an alum of the PSE’s startSMART and staySMART programs, whose work as a costume designer (of “Altered Expressions and Design”), party organizer and home-school curriculum developer makes a great difference in our community. It’s been a joy to work with her on some website copy. She has a remarkable story to share.


And if you enter 2022 with a desire to do a “deep dive” on entrepreneurial issues of all kinds (including strategy, well-being and beyond), look no further! Easily our region’s best coach is PSE facilitator, Deanna Litz, who is principal of Powerful Nature Coaching & Consulting, Inc..

Deanna reminded me, as a client last summer and fall, “there’s nothing small about small business.”  And she has the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience everyone should (but seldom does) find in a coach. I highly recommend Deanna and encourage you to contact her, today!


And finally, if you or a senior whom you know is in search of safe and comfortable home that provides assistance, please consider downtown Saskatoon’s The Franklin Retirement Residence by Revera. The team there have remarkable empathy for seniors in their late years and offer safe physical environs, a delicious and nutritious menu (with plenty of variety), add-on home care, fellowship and seniors’ programming, transportation, and more.

At a time when senior care in our province is woefully underfunded and when virtually all special (private) care homes fail their residents, buildings like The Franklin remain a bulwark. For a complimentary tour and information about a variety of options, including short-term stays through the winter, please call Sales consultant, Monique Duperreault, who is a generous ambassador: Monique.Duperreault@reveraliving.com  . Or reach her by phone at (306) 664-6366.



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.” Last winter, I pivoted toward teaching ESL and now assist newcomers to Canada to secure better jobs by improving their language skills; I also help small- and medium-sized businesses to close more sales by communicating more effectively; and I tell the legacy stories of major companies.

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.storytellingcommunications.ca).



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