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Presence is more important than presents over holidays

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Weather combined with loneliness can make the holidays feel isolating for people who might not have loved ones to celebrate with.

"There are gifts under the tree but there is also the gift of kindness, love, a simple phone call, and letting somebody know that you care," English Lutheran Church Senior Pastor Mark Solist said.

"Often times people can carry their pain...the harder thing to carry is their isolation," Franciscan Spirituality Center Associate Director Steve Spilde said. "If they know they're not alone, people can usually get through a lot of things. They are pretty resilient."

The Franciscan Spirituality Center hosts holiday events where people can find a sense of community.

English Lutheran Church puts on a Christmas Eve service on December 24 at 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Holy Trinity Catholic Church hosts Christmas Mass at 4:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.

"I love everybody coming together and all of the pageantry that's a part of it," Solist said. "The sense of belonging and being a community that's gathered together, surrounded by people that we may dearly love and people we may have never met before."

Another isolating topic that might come up during the holidays is politics. Spilde said it's important to listen to one another and understand that differing opinions do not mean someone is wrong.

"When people listen to each other and hear where they are coming from, it's easier to understand," Spilde said. "We need to be compassionate of other people but also be compassionate of ourselves. So if a conversation does not feel safe then we need to give ourselves permission to remove ourselves. Perhaps go for a walk or take the dog out for a walk."

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Marcus Aarsvold

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