By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
If you lament being alone and lonely during the holiday, here are some suggestions for you to rewrite your holiday routines with meaning and fun.
1. Join a holiday performance
Do you have to be a dancer to be involved in a Nutcracker ballet?
Nope. It has been a fun family tradition for my cousin Mark Woo and his family for the past seven years.
Mark volunteered to operate the fog machine backstage. His daughters, Madeline and Alexa, are the ballet dancers, playing various roles such as party girl, mouse, fairy, clown, Dew Drop Fairy, and Clara. Their mother, Karen, plays Mayor Stahlbaum’s wife, the only person who gets paid. She is a dance teacher at V and T Dance in Laguna Hills, Calif., which produces the Nutcracker.
Mark is smart to be involved. Other parents whose kids are in the Nutcracker either have to watch the ballet over and over again or sit at the back of the stage reading their smartphone while the kids perform.
There are Christmas productions in our area — you just have to search for one that is willing to train volunteers.
You never know, you could be starting a new career.
2. Go red
Last Saturday, I chased Santas, not for gifts, but for something else.
These was no “Ho Ho Ho!” with these Santas. They also didn’t have fat bellies or beards. None of them had white hair. Some were tall and handsome. Some carried backpacks. Several wore sunglasses. And no kids were lurking behind their backs, asking for gifts.
Why were so many Santas wandering downtown?
I asked one of them, “What’s going on?” They were willing to tell me anything or even share their names.
One guy said, “Call me Santa Nick.” He then gestured to his friends to shut up.
I hassled many guys until one finally said, “We are meeting in a pub.”
“There was something I read on Facebook,” another said.
So I tagged along to the pub.
There were literally hundreds of Santa Clauses at the Jamestown bar on Third Avenue, outside and inside. Although none of them were able to reveal what the occasion was, I figured it out through Internet research.
In 1994, SantaCon was first organized in San Francisco. It has spread to 32 countries. Anyone can start this Santa tradition with friends. It can be a fun tradition.
3. Give chicken to the poor
Jerry Lee and Cordial Lui started their chicken tradition three years ago. They bought hundreds of roasted chickens each year to give to the needy lining up at the Asian Counseling and Referral Service’s food bank in the International District. The tradition has grown to more than 20 volunteers and 16 donors and volunteers, including City Councilmember Bruce Harrell and former Sonics player Fred Brown, and District Court Judge Mark Chow who give out about 400 chickens before Christmas.
4. Volunteer for the Salvation Army
Every year, hundreds of volunteers ring their bells right outside retail shops to ask for donations for the Salvation Army. I have a dentist friend who has been doing it for years. He said it’s part of his annual community contribution.
On Dec. 17, I found Cleveland High School students standing outside Nordstrom. Garfield students were across the street at the Gap, also volunteering for the Salvation Army.
The weather was cold, but it didn’t dampen the spirit of the volunteers. The Garfield group sang Christmas carols and caught the attention of many passersby, who gave generously to the cause.
5. Organize a gathering
You can call it a party, an open house — anything. Just bring people together who are not traveling or holed up at home. I look forward to my friend’s annual women’s party (for 50 to 60 people) at the end of the year. We all chip in to rent a place, which costs about $300. It is nice and cozy, has a fireplace, a stage, and plenty of free parking, so the host doesn’t have to stress out over details.
6. Shopping with kids in need
Every year, the Seattle Rotary Club organizes a group of Rotarians to shop with kids who do not get Christmas gifts. Rotarians might buy them a warm coat or toys. Remember the words of the late Andy Rooney, “It’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.”
7. Create a healthy holiday
We all tend to overeat and overcook during the holidays. Why not start a healthy tradition this year by making all your dishes healthy, tasty, and colorful? Using all kinds of veggies can enhance the color of your food. Do away with fats. Though it’s hard for me to shun those yummy desserts that friends send me during Christmas, at least I am not eating fats. Cook your food with healthy fats such as olive or coconut oil.
Invite your friends and family to try out your healthy tradition, and challenge them to come up with dinner for the next holiday.
8. Adopt a needy family
I would be overwhelmed if I had to cook for 10 people. But I can relax if I only have to cook a nice holiday dinner for a small low-income family of two to four at my house. You can also give them gifts that they really need such as money, blankets, and books. Homeless women really need female hygiene items, bandages, first aid supplies, soap, and other daily necessities.
How do you get the family? You can ask the ACRS, YWCA, ReWA, CISC, and the Rotary Boys & Girls Clubs. It could be one of your most memorable dinners ever. (end)
Assunta Ng can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.