The following article originally appears in the Winter 2018 edition of Inside Journal®, a quarterly newspaper printed and distributed by Prison Fellowship® to correctional facilities across the country.
Prison is probably the last place you want to celebrate the holidays. Perhaps missing your family has you wanting to skip the holidays altogether. Perhaps you are hoping a loved one will visit, but don’t know if they’ll make it.
Even if the approaching holiday fills you with dread, there is something you can do to ensure that this Christmas will be a joyful one: Find someone else to bless.
You probably know the saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” It’s true! By focusing on making Christmas special for those around you, you can take your mind off your troubles and inject some joy into the holiday.
We’ve gathered a list of ideas inspired by men and women in correctional facilities across the country who have found ways to make the season brighter. While facility rules vary, and some of these ideas might not be possible at your institution, they might jumpstart your own creativity.
HOST A CARD OR GIFT EXCHANGE
Invite others from your unit to each purchase or make a gift and bring it to the exchange. Do not label the gifts, so that anyone can feel comfortable taking any item.
DONATE TO AN INDIGENT FUND IF YOUR FACILITY HAS ONE.
Consider donating a portion of your financial support to your facility’s indigent fund (if one exists). Knowing you’ll be brightening someone else’s holiday might just lift your spirits and cause a chain reaction.
DONATE A SKILL
If you have a special skill, giving your time and talent can help bless other prisoners. Offer free services, such as a hair appointment, legal research, or tutor in a subject that you have already mastered.
MAKE CHRISTMAS CARDS
Spend a little money at the commissary on items (poster board, colored pencils, etc.) to make Christmas cards. Mail them to loved ones and give them to friends in your unit. Especially consider giving cards to those who may not receive a lot of mail from the outside.
DONATE ITEMS FROM THE CANTEEN
Rally a group of prisoners to purchase socks or toiletry items to donate to a local homeless shelter or relief organization.
Form a group from your unit and walk around the yard singing Christmas carols, or go cell to cell with favorites like “Joy to the World,” “The First Noel,” and “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.”
Christmas isn’t about what you get—it’s about what you give. So give some thought to how you can brighten someone else’s holiday, and you’ll find that your own gets better, too.
The Life of Joseph