Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Paying It Forward at Christmas

            I was talking with my family last week about a cool idea I read on a blog—a ‘paying it forward’ sort of thing. The idea is to either decide on acts of kindness to do each day for a couple weeks leading up to Christmas, or to let a situation present itself each day, and to follow through to show another human being extra kindness in this season.
            Sometimes I struggle with feeling ‘Grinchy’ during the holidays. I want the holidays to be meaningful, but what does that mean and how do I do it? I often become  too focused on my wants, my agenda, my to-do list, the next place I have to be, and on and on. I feel overwhelmed and unable to enjoy the season. I want my kids to experience the joy of giving to others, but I have to set that example. How do I even start?
            The premise is simple. Seek out ways to give freely to others, often strangers, this holiday season.  One of the ideas I read was to buy a gift card to the store that you’re in when you check out—it can be just $5—and then either give it to someone as you’re leaving the store or stick it under someone’s windshield wiper.
How cool would that be? What about this—pay for the person behind you in the coffee shop line. Tip the barista extra big. Spend time with an elderly neighbor who craves company. Bake cookies and leave them on someone’s doorstep with a note. Handwrite a note to someone who meant a lot to you growing up and tell them.
      Teach a child something you wish someone had taught you (or did teach you) when you were a kid.  Donate stuff you don’t want or need to a local charity. Donate food to a food pantry. Shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk after a snow.  Babysit for a single mom or dad. Hide quarters in a vending machine change slot. Compliment people freely. Wish the driver who cut you off well. Let go of a grudge.
            I’m on a roll but also out of space. We plan to brainstorm ideas and make a list. Getting stuff isn’t just what a good life is made of, it’s being good to each other however we can.  Merry Christmas!

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