I find joy in sharing what I’ve learned almost as much as I find joy in learning.

Recently, a small group of my neighbors decided that caring for houseplants might help them to get through this winter in better spirits than they would be able to otherwise. This is shaping up to be a more difficult winter than what we normally endure with colder weather and fewer hours of sunlight. Those in this online houseplants community respond when we know something about the care of a Christmas cactus in winter or of a lipstick plant that is dropping leaves. We are reaching out and touching each other’s lives in a supportive way, however virtual that connection may need to be.

The overarching message of every winter holiday season is that sharing means caring. In earlier times, the celebratory season started at the end of the year’s harvesting. It continued through the darkest days of winter with festivals of lights—yule logs and candles—that affirmed that the days ahead would be brighter. For many people, their moods darken and their energy dissipates at this time of year. Knowing that someone cares can certainly make a difference.

During the holiday season, we give thanks for good friends and loved ones. And if we can’t sit around a table to share our best efforts at cooking, we can still give of our time to do something for those we love or for someone we don’t even know. Our gift of caring might be to donate to a food bank or to drop off a casserole for a neighborhood elder who we know is living alone. Sometimes, simply saying “I care about you” is a gift. Most of us say this far too infrequently.

When I was a child, my parents treasured no gift as much as one my sisters or I had made. I loved that my gift was appreciated (that I was appreciated) but didn’t understand until I was older that when we make a gift for someone, we are giving of ourselves in a special way.

Most of us have valuable skills. Perhaps we are skilled at carpentry, sewing, cooking, or plumbing repairs. This past summer, I made about seventy face masks that met CDC guidelines, using leftover cotton fabric that I had accumulated over more than two decades of other sewing projects. These little gifts went to loved ones, friends, and neighbors who weren’t able to find masks to purchase. I love sewing, so these gifts were not a chore; they were a pleasure to make. A neighbor recently volunteered to help me by taking photographs I needed for this website. He loves taking photographs, but this was still a form of generosity on his part.

As energy-depleted as we may be as the days grow darker, sharing our time, efforts, creations, skills, or knowledge can be a way to re-energize ourselves and to feel brighter. I share these thoughts with you, hoping that you find them helpful, because sharing means caring.