The official start of winter is approaching, the days gradually changing from autumn to the next season. Colder temperatures, shorter days, in a time when many prepare for celebrations of upcoming holidays. This year so much of that has changed, I suspect many may find it difficult to plan for festivities. This has been a year to gain a better understanding of uncertainty about our routines, work, school, shopping, social lives and our health. We’ve taken for granted a level of control over our lives that was suddenly yanked away by outside forces.

Christmas tree with lights on and presents around the bottom

Yet I know my family and I, my friends, we have all been fortunate enough to have shelter, food and warmth to get us through these times. We all grumble about our difficulties, while others are struggling simply to obtain basic needs such as food and shelter. As I read about those who are hungry, who will lose shelter, the sick and the bereaved, I feel humbled at how little I’ve been affected. I find myself looking at my troubles a bit differently, reducing them in size when they seemed to loom so large before this year.

Picture of ice/snow on windshield and hood of the car

I may have a taste of hardship in the next few days as our area experiences strong winds that could fan fires. Our power may get turned off in order to reduce fire risk and it may be off for a few days. I am concerned about this, worried about how we will get through. I also know I am experiencing just a tiny bit of the fear, anxiety and stress that others are experiencing as they struggle to get by.

Branch with few leaves on it, with background of cloudy sky

I now look for the lights, the physical lights of Christmas decorations and the light of good deeds, people reaching out a hand to help others in these troubling times. I also want to add a little bit of light for others who are eager to work hard while still struggling with circumstances larger than they can easily handle.  I plan to share a little bit of my good fortune by contributing to a local food bank. I also plan to stay aware of those who are less fortunate and do what I can to help our community. In the meantime, I hope everyone stays safe and finds the help they need when they need it. May we all work together to work for the highest good for everyone, no matter what their circumstances.

Feeding America - Website that allows you to find a local food bank and donate to help others -

Pictures by John T. Harpster, prints of some photos can be purchased at

Sign up as a patron at our Patreon site, get access to a newsletter and other articles each month.