Go Paper-Free

The holidays are upon us, and I’m determined to say thanks to the people who are helping us through this horrible situation, but I don’t know how. I’ve thought about giving a gift to the support groups for the firefighters and the police officers, but that doesn’t include everybody. I’ve thought about making a donation to Second Harvest, since that seems to affect everybody. But I’d like the people out there on the front lines — the hospital workers, the woman who delivers my mail and even the people in the grocery store — to know what I’ve done. I’m sure posting on Facebook won’t do it. I just want people to know that I’m trying. Please help.— Anonymous, Hillsboro-Belmont 

You’re doing the admirable thing. Donations to the police and fire department support organizations or to Second Harvest are perfect choices, except that, you’re right; the people on the front lines — especially the cashier and baggers at the grocery store — are unlikely to know about them. They’re not doing what they do for anybody’s thanks, of course, but you still want them to know that you’re grateful for their work, which can be life-risking. You can’t be Facebook friends with the world, but you can be frontline friends with the people with whom you’re in contact every day. We’re not supposed to give cash gifts to the people who deliver our mail, and the people who push the cart for us at the grocery store aren’t supposed to take tips. However, saying thank you and waiting patiently in line is always the right thing to do. When you see your mail deliverer, a wave will make her — and you — feel happy. Look everybody in the eye over the top of your mask; they’ll probably know there’s a smile behind it. That’s nice all the time, not just for the holidays. 


This year, for the first time in years, I’m planning to send Christmas cards. It was hard enough finding the cards, but now, I’m at a loss for addresses. I used to have a phone book where I could find people’s addresses, but I don’t have one anymore. And almost nobody has a hard line anymore, so it probably wouldn’t help, anyhow. I guess I could call everybody and ask for their addresses, but I don’t know how to reach them. I’ve got the time to address the envelopes, but how? — Anonymous, Oak Hill

You’re a little late getting started on this project. You probably don’t have an address book or an old-style Rolodex as backups. Carry a pen and paper with you, and ask people for their contact info when you run into them. That doesn’t happen a lot these days, and you probably want to send cards to people you don’t run into at the gas pump. If you’ve got friends who’ve kept their address books, start with them. After a few calls or emails, you’ll find your list gradually growing. There’s no easy fix right now. If you plan to send cards in the future, keep the files. More Christmases are to come, I bet.