Christmas is almost here, which has led to a mini freak-out on my part. I’m behind schedule with my gift-making and unsure how I’m going to squeeze everything into my suitcase. There is one absolute rule I follow when traveling: thou shall not check luggage unless the airline decrees your feline to be carry on luggage. Unlike Emeril, Max does not travel home with me. Max does not do well in his carrier for extended periods, and he would also, well, destroy my family home. Within minutes, he’d take down the tree and morph into Maxzilla and terrorize my Mom’s porcelain Christmas village. We’d get banished to the barn, toot suite.
Thus, my Christmas Cheer Meter is running a bit low, which turned me into a grumbling Grinch. I don’t want to be that person — the one everyone avoids like a moldy fruitcake. Succumbing to my urge to pout, I decided to watch some TV and settled on It’s a Wonderful Life, which I had never watched before. I know. I know. It’s a Christmas classic, but I’m more of an Elf kind-of-girl. And because God (the Universe or whomever you believe) is much, much smarter than I am, he knew exactly what I needed.
The Difference One Person Can Make
Spoiler Alert (hey, there are others who haven’t seen the movie yet!): George Bailey (played by James Stewart) attempts to commit suicide on Christmas Eve, but his guardian angel, Clarence, thankfully intervenes in time to stop him. Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and how different the lives of those he loves would be without him.
It’s so easy to forget how our actions impact others and the difference we can make. And most of the time — I don’t even think we realize how seemingly random acts of kindness can resonant for a lifetime. Could you imagine the effect if we all made a choice to be mindfully kind?
Spread Mindful Acts of Kindness this Christmas and Every Day
The world seems so dark some days, especially since so many people prey upon our fears, which typically leads to more fear. Our best weapon is mindful acts of kindness, like these:
- Look people in the eye and smile, especially those who are helping you, such as your waitress or cashier. I do this all the time and cashiers, in particular, are often surprised. Most people just grunt at them as they dig through their purse or wallet. Take the time to say hello and thank you and let them know you see and appreciate them.
- Go through your home and look for items to donate. Most of us have too much stuff, and there are lots of people who could put your things to better use. You’ll feel better without all the clutter, while helping others. That’s a win-win in my book.
- Help out a new Mom. Prepare some casseroles or slow cooker meals that can be frozen to help make meal-times easier. If they have older kids, offer to watch them, free-of-charge, to give them time to bond with their newborn and some much needed rest.
- Do something unexpected for someone, whether you know them or not. If you receive exemplary service give a generous tip and send a note to their boss, so they know how well their employee is representing their business. Make a special treat to share with co-workers, buy the meal for the family celebrating someone’s birthday, pay the toll for the 5 cars behind you or bring coffee to your admin. These are just a few ideas.
- Acknowledge loved ones for no reason. Call or send them a note to tell them you love them and thank them for their support. If someone you love is going through a tough time, offer encouragement and do what you can, within reason, to help them.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen, animal shelter, food shelter or whatever organization appeals to you. Non-profits help so many people in need and rely on volunteers, like you, to help accomplish their mission.
- Help those less fortunate celebrate Christmas. You can sponsor a family, donate to Toys for Tots or a similar charity, ring the bell at a Salvation Army kettle or host a food drive or toy drop at your place of work, worship or school. If you have friends or co-workers who have no where to go, invite them to celebrate the holiday with you.
- Call your local nursing home and/or hospital to see if there is someone who would like visitors (and is well enough to receive them) but doesn’t have any. Your visit will mean the world to them.
- Shop for someone who is home-bound or not able-bodied enough to easily get to the store. Offer to help with their house and yard work. Periodically check on them to make sure they are okay.
- Be present. Truly listen when others are talking. Notice if someone if being bullied and help. Invite the person sitting by themselves to join you and your friends at lunch. Introduce yourself to your new co-worker or neighbor.
Bonus Tip: Give Hugs Freely
I wasn’t a hugger. It’s the Minnesotan in me. We’re friendly people but kind of reserved. When I moved to California, well, everybody hugs. A lot. And it’s kind of awesome. I have a friend who gives the most amazing hugs. When we used to work together, people would literally line-up to hug her at our events. A hug can be one of the easiest and best acts of kindness you can give.
Watch this video, then go hug someone.
How do you spread mindful or random acts of kindness? What has someone done to you that made your day?