The best gift you can give is kindness.
The other day, I saw several of my neighbors waiting for the trash collector. When he stopped in front of each of their houses they greeted him. They asked about his holiday plans and gave him a gift showing their appreciation for doing a great job all year.
He comes early. I wanted to spare him my fuzzy blue bathrobe, so I watched from my office window. It was foggy, but I was still able to see the smile on his face as he took the red and green gift bag I’d left for him on the lid of our trash can.
We know how small gestures of kindness from others affect us. But we don’t always know how our simple deeds may impact others.
Several years ago, my daughter asked me to be a team leader for a group of friends who wanted to volunteer for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. The day of the event I spontaneously invited one of her friend’s parents to join us. At the time, we didn’t know them very well. But they came and had a great time.
Over time, we became good friends enjoying boating, barbeques and family trips together. Last year, this friend invited me to help with Relay for Life. I didn’t know it at the time, but she had been very involved and had volunteered every year since the first time we walked the High School track together.
At the first meeting they asked each attendee to tell the group why they were getting involved. My answer was simple, Barb asked me. I was selfish. Barb’s a fun, upbeat person and I like hanging out with her. Going to the monthly meetings was guaranteed girl time.
Barb stood up to tell us why she was involved. To my surprise, she was there because I had invited her all those years ago. And at that time, unbeknownst to me, she was fighting cancer. That first relay meant a lot to her and her family. She’s a survivor. Now she does what she can to help others win the fight too.
I was touched to have helped. And I’m so thankful for the years of friendship we’ve shared.
A small pebble can make big ripples.
A high school art teacher was the one who encouraged me to pursue an education in fine art. His support gave me the confidence to follow my dream. And in turn, several of my students have gone on to be successful glass artists. But, the acts and results don’t have to be huge to be of great value. Small gestures are equally as significant.
I appreciate it when a stranger holds the door to the pack and ship store for me when I’m carrying oversized boxes. Or when a driver backs off, so I can merge onto the highway. These simple acts of kindness impact my day in a positive way. They buoy my mood. And positive energy encourages more positivity. They’ll never know how much their generosity meant to me. I keep that in mind when I come across strangers at the mall, or people who provide a service for us. I offer a warm smile; I ask how they are and genuinely care. I like to think it brightens their day, maybe it lessens a burden or at the least, makes them feel special, like someone cares.
When I saw my neighbors greeting our trash collector, I could see how much he appreciated being remembered. It’s these minor moments of compassion and consideration for each other that make this season so special.
You may never know how your actions affect another person. But, when I offer kindness to others it warms my heart. It puts a smile on my own face and a spring in my step. And that’s a good start.
Give from the heart. Pass it on.