By Assunta Ng
If you whine about being lonely during the holidays, or if you don’t have many party invitations, or if your friends and family have been deserting you from Christmas to New Year’s day, you need to read this blog.
If you are an out-of-state transplant, working for Amazon or Google, and have no family roots here, you need to read my blog.
If you are the type who sits for hours reading your cell phone to numb your feelings with no dates at the end of the year, I’ve got news for you.
It’s time for you to take action to change your life. Here is a list of things you can do not only during the holidays but during the rest of the year.
Organize your potlucks
Have an interesting theme. Start with an Asian or other ethnic potluck with family and other relatives or colleagues. You can organize veggies or low-fat potlucks if you worry about dieting.
Ask each friend to invite five friends. Three or four organizers will produce a room of enthusiastic guests so you won’t carry the burden of doing all the work.
The Northwest Asian Weekly staff is famous for its Christmas tradition – a sumptuous potluck. This year, our potluck showcased staff being outstanding cooks, adventurous with food and generous to share. Food is about sharing; it tastes better when you are dining with others.
At least seven staff members out of 12 brought along two dishes each, and they made them personally, ranging from Taiwanese, Japanese, Cantonese, Northern Chinese, Vietnamese, and American. Most of them were entrees, not desserts. (Make sure you don’t end up like many non-Asian potlucks I have experienced, with guests mostly bringing salads and desserts bought from grocery stores. And one notorious potluck I attended only served cheese, bread and wine. I was the only one who brought real food – barbecued pork.)
Confession: I didn’t make any. (I just ordered from restaurants in the Chinatown International District.) The quantity and quality of food was amazing. The amount of leftovers was enough for my next five dinners.
“We already talked about who would take the leftovers,” one said. They had fun in negotiating the food, I suppose. Hey, where was my share?
“I want the beef, some chicken, and some of the fungus so I don’t have to cook dinner tonight,” I said.
As soon as I said that, my desire was granted. Someone boxed the goodies for me. Everyone was happy with delicious leftovers to take home.
A lot of bosses think their employees want a turkey or nice china for Christmas. Wrong. Employees would rather receive money than gifts from their employer.
I am fond of being Santa. It gives me great joy at the end of the potluck to say, “Ho, ho, ho!” and hand each staff member a red envelope with money. We have done it every year even in tough times when the economy tanked from 2008-2012. Yes, we make sacrifices and I hope my team appreciates.
On Dec. 27, a New York Times article, “Give, if you know what’s good for you” stated the health benefits in giving. The research showed that for those who bought things for themselves compared to those who bought gifts for others or donated money for good causes, there was a clear difference in the subjects’ blood pressure. Those who spent money on themselves showed no difference in their blood pressure; those who spent money on others showed “a significant reduction in blood pressure.” Yes, “financial generosity was linked to lower blood pressure.”
“I am not Bill Gates,” you might argue, and you don’t have money to spare. Everyone can be Santa with a heart of charity. What about making something for those who are in need? Bake cookies or bread for a homeless shelter. Clean out your bookshelf and donate books you left cold over the years to the library. Take out CDs, DVDs that you have forgotten in your storage and send them to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Visit those who are sick and in need, especially those who couldn’t go out to enjoy holiday activities. Send notes and cards to old friends you have not connected with in ages.
I couldn’t believe the number of singles going to see the movie “Star Wars.” Learn to enjoy your own company. Going to movies yourself is just like watching television at home alone. You shouldn’t be self-conscious.
Instead, you should be content that you can afford to watch movies anytime you like.
Try something new
I haven’t watched the Pacific Northwest Ballet for 15 years and never at McCaw Hall. This year, my son and I decided to see “The Nutcracker.” It was a lovely time with my son. We were delighted to see Asian performers in the show and were impressed by the entire show.
Learn a new skill
Teach yourself how to paint, knit, dance, play the piano, or speak a new language through the Internet. One of my staff members taught herself how to speak Korean. She now has many Korean friends including a boyfriend.
Enjoy the lights with friends
The other day, we drove friends to see Christmas lights in town. This was not the type of activity they would normally do.
The rest of the year might not have light shows. Still, there are garden shows, concerts and other events you can invite friends to come along and enjoy. Just check newspapers, television or the Internet. There are enough new things happening in the city, you just have to explore them.
People frequently ask what is my New Year’s resolution. Eat, give and play all year round sounds terrific, I reply. I was able to achieve that in December, and I intend to do so in 2016. I have worked hard all my time.
So I want to play more even with lots of challenges! And one more thing: count my blessings every day. (end)