It’s been a tough year and it will be even more difficult knowing that many of us will spend it without having family and friends at our side. So what can we do to make it feel a bit more like Christmas? What can we do to help us get in the Christmas spirit? Here are some things you can do during the week leading up to Christmas and the week before New Year's Day.

Saturday, Dec. 19: Send someone a Christmas card who you may not normally send a card to. Pray for snow for all of those businesses that depend on snow for their winter livelihood.

Sunday, Dec. 20: Feed the birds and spend an hour watching some of the Creator’s finest creations. Make some Christmas cookies. Or, buy some Christmas cookies. Or, give away some Christmas cookies.

Monday, Dec. 21: Take a gift to a frontline worker. They might be postal workers, police and firefighters, workers in a care facility, hospital workers, day care teachers or school teachers. Listen to some Christmas music.

Tuesday, Dec. 22: Watch one of those favorite Christmas movies that are so abundant this time of year on TV. The Hallmark channel is playing Christmas movies 24/7. Bundle up and take a walk. Breath in the clean air that we are so lucky to have in northern Minnesota.

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Wednesday, Dec. 23: Give a monetary gift to some fraternal organization, church, food shelf, United Way, Scouts or Boys and Girls Club or some other nonprofit organization. All of these organizations return those gifts many times over by making our community a better place to live. Gather the change you have lying around the house and put it in a red kettle.

Thursday, Dec. 24: Call someone who needs a call and wish them a Merry Christmas. Drive through town and countryside to see the decorated house lights. Watch a Christmas Eve service on your computer or TV.

Friday, Dec. 25: Read the Christmas story. Watch a Christmas Day service on your computer or TV. Just save some time to look out the window and marvel at the Creator’s handiwork. Share your favorite Christmas memories.

Saturday, Dec. 26: Make some hot chocolate and play some card or board games. Start a new book or finish an old book. What classic novel have you not read?

Sunday, Dec. 27: Take a walk on the ice. Marvel at what you see and what you are doing. Don’t slip. Take small steps. Ask some ice fisherman how they are doing.

Monday, Dec. 28: Let’s all pray by this time that our frontline workers have access to the vaccine. Let’s also pray that the number of deaths is on the downside. Take a ride in the countryside. Winter in our northern Minnesota countryside, snow or no snow, is as beautiful as it is in the spring.

Tuesday, Dec. 29: Give a fast food place or restaurant some business. Thank a teacher.

Wednesday, Dec. 30: Play a game of checkers or chess or backgammon. If you have an indoor fireplace, roast some hotdogs. If you don’t, make a fire outdoors and roast some hotdogs.

Thursday, Dec. 31: Make a list of some special things you want to do this year. Put something on the list you can do tomorrow. Say a prayer for our country and the world for a more peaceful 2021 year.

Friday, January 1: Call someone and wish them a Happy New Year. Tell them how much you appreciate their friendship. Do one thing on your list of goals.

The anticipation of Christmas when I was young was indescribably stupendous.

The days and days leading up to Christmas were filled with special events like the pageant at school, passing out gifts at school to classmates, the holiday school assembly where the principal would read "The Night Before Christmas," the special showing of cartoons at the local theater, the first day of Christmas vacation, the Christmas Eve service, opening presents, walking in new fallen snow on Christmas Day, going ice fishing with my father and brother, visiting cousins, making snow forts and having snowball fights.

Although this year will be like no other, for the sake of children everywhere and for our own sanity, let's try to make this Christmas the best ever. Stay well, stay safe.

Riddle: What did Mrs. Claus say to Santa when she looked up in the sky? (Answer: Looks like rain, dear.) Looking at the stars on a cold, moonless night is one of Minnesota winter’s best gifts to us.

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The best gift you can give to a high school student is to tell them they can graduate and you believe in them. Give them the confidence they need to graduate.

John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.