A Guest Writer Series
Cultivating a Spirit of Togetherness this Holiday Season
Gathering with friends and family, especially during the holidays, is a treasured gift. To see loved one’s faces and hear their familiar voices nourishes our souls just as the meal nourishes the body.
We know, however, that it’s not always possible to have everyone we love gathered around the table. While it’s never the same without the uncle who cracks the corny jokes, the grandmother who bakes a family recipe to perfection, or the sibling who helps to make the unseen feel seen. There are ways to honor their absence, as well as create lasting memories for those who are around the table. In honoring those far or no longer with us, we cultivate a spirit of togetherness that will thread gratitude throughout the generations. Grounding us to the present and helping us see that our time of gathering whether in person or in spirit remind us that we have received grace upon grace.
Ideas to Cultivate a Spirit of Togetherness
Because sometimes we need a go to list of ways to be together without a big fuss, I have made you a list to tuck away, go to when you need a reminder for how to extend an invitation, and gather those near and far.
Choose joy. Focus on those who will be around our table this holiday season. Not every situation creates happiness, but we can always choose joy. Though we miss those around our table, we can choose to celebrate the power of being present with those who are with us.
Send a card. If possible, ask as many relatives as possible to either sign your card or send one of their own to the person who is unable to attend. Be specific about why you will miss them.
Fill up plates. Does the missing someone live nearby? If their absence is due to an illness, deliver a plate of food (and don’t skimp on the pie!). Deliver it with a smile and a holiday-sized air hug to make it extra special. Food has a way of bringing people together in a way few other things do.
Plan a Facetime or Zoom session ahead of time. It will give everyone something to look forward to, especially the person who is unable to be there in person.
Give to others. Donate the money usually spent on additional groceries to a ministry that feeds the hungry during holidays in honor of those missing from your holiday table.
Create a “Why We Love You” Jar. Write down various reasons why you love the person who is missing on slips of paper. Place them in a plastic jar to ship, or mail only the slips of paper in an envelope, if you prefer. Include directions to draw one a day leading up to the holiday and read it aloud. It’s sure to be a warm reminder of your love for them.
Create a table runner. A week or two before the holiday, ask loved ones to draw and/or write messages on Kraft paper. Cut it to the size of a placemat or table runner. Drop it in the mail in time for missing loved ones to place it on their holiday table. If you’re unable to create a table runner, consider writing messages on a card that can be folded and put on display. As always, it’s the message that matters most.
Make a voice recording. Pass a phone around the table so that everyone can share with the missing loved one that they’re missed. By sending a recorded message, your loved one can listen to it on repeat.
Make a video. Like the voice recording, pass a phone to each person and record a short message. The advantage of sending a video is that the missing loved one can see both their faces and hear their voices, which is a blessing indeed.
Add an empty chair around the table. It’s a simple but powerful reminder that although a loved one’s physical presence is missing, they are not forgotten.
Share memories. When we share specific things remembered from past holidays, especially with the younger generation, we partner with God, reminding everyone present that they belong to your family, and hopefully, a godly family heritage. If the missing loved ones have passed, ask everyone to celebrate their memory by sharing their own favorite remembrance of them.
Speak truth. Write holiday-themed scripture verses on small cards, handing out one to each person around the table. In place of a meal prayer (or in addition to), take turns reading the various cards. The Word is living and active and the most powerful source of togetherness regardless of who is present around our table.
A Prayer of Togetherness
Take a deep breath and remember that it’s not up to you to make togetherness happen but you get to partner with the Maker of Unity. You get to partner with the Prince of Peace so come before him in prayer and join him in the art of gathering through his strength.
Heavenly Father, we are thankful for the spirit of togetherness we share with You through Jesus Christ. As we navigate this holiday season without loved ones present, help us to remember that You are here in our midst, offering comfort and joy despite the disappointment. Show us how to be present—emotionally, spiritually, and physically—with everyone You seat around our table for Your purposes and pleasure. Amen.
Cathy Baker writes from a tiny studio lovingly known as The Tiny House on the Hill in the Foothills of SC. As an author, Hope Writer, and Bible teacher for over twenty-five years, she encourages women to pause and embrace the seemingly small, mundane moments of their day for God’s glory. She invites you to join her in the tiny house where you’re always welcome to come on in and take a seat. There, you’ll find a free copy of Ways to Pray Throughout Your Home. You can also connect with her on Instagram or inside her free Creative Pauses Facebook Group.
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