Something Happens to People at Christmas
It happens to people when they start thinking about the joy people will experience from the gifts they will give.
They suddenly feel kinder, more generous, more caring. They want to spread a little happiness!
It should happen all year round, but the thought that we should do a good deed or spread a little happiness every day might pop into our heads, but then it promptly leaves when our busy lives take over.
If Kids Can Do It…
Some of the things people in our local communities are doing to spread a little happiness might surprise you.
Kids at the local daycare here brought food, toys, and brushes for the local Animal Hope Shelter for rescued animals. These are pre-school kids. It goes to show that even three and four-year-olds can spread a little happiness.
A random act of kindness does not mean you have to spend money. Random acts of kindness occur everyday when we don’t even realize it. We might hold open a door, offer assistance, let someone go ahead in line, or help someone trying to get up or down the steps. Every small interaction with someone is an opportunity to have a positive affect on both of our lives.
One day I was getting groceries. An old fellow, hunched over, was scouring the shelves for something. He kept looking at his list and back up on the shelves. I asked him if he was having trouble finding something. He replied that he certainly was; his wife wanted a particular item and he could not see it on the shelf. I agreed that it should be on this shelf, but it is actually in a different area because it comes in a bag, not a can. I went with him to the right area, we found it, and he was ever so pleased and grateful. It felt great. Giving always feels better than receiving.
If We Can Do It Away From Home…
Something I’ve noticed while travelling is that I tend to smile at people more often and that I am simply more friendly than I am at home.
Have you ever noticed that even when you go just a few miles out of town to visit someone, you are warmer, kinder and more friendly than your are from day to day?
Why don’t we do that at home and work as well? Nose to the ground, or to our cell phones, we are too focussed on our little tasks to look up and… just smile.
Years ago, we had just moved to a new city with our two children. It was our anniversary so we looked up one of the best restaurants in town and headed out. The address lead us to the railway tracks and a warehouse area. With hesitation, we walked up to the door of a rough-looking warehouse, which opened to set of old wooden stairs heading down. Looking at each other with raised eyebrows, we proceeded slowly down the stairs.
At the bottom of the stairs, a door opened to the most beautiful elegant French dining room. We had a lovely romantic dinner. When we asked for the bill, the waiter simply said it was taken care of. We were confused. We asked to pay. The waiter said there was no charge. Huh? When we asked why, he said he was not at liberty to explain. Huh? Finally, after we insisted, the waiter advised that our boisterous neighbors, 4 gentleman at a neighboring table, ordering wine by the year, had paid our bill by way of apology for their noisy repartee and disrupting our romantic evening. They asked the waiter not to tell us who paid the bill. We were blown away by this kind gesture.
Smiling at fellow shoppers as you do your shopping can truly make someone’s day. Asking a cashier how her day is going makes her feel like a real human being and brightens his/her day. Making a small joke as you stand in line can ease the stress of everyone around you.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to be nice.
Or to smile.
Or to compliment someone.
Or to thank someone who doesn’t expect it.
Elf on the Shelf
Buy an Elf on the Shelf for your kids, and watch their eyes sparkle each morning as they see what mischievous deed he was up to last night. Elf on the Shelf, Official Site
Reddit’s Secret Santa Campaign
The Secret Santa Campaign on Reddit is doing something that is making upwards of 100,000 people around the world smile. Internet-strangers from 160 countries have faith in their fellow human beings and send gift to the other side of the world. How amazing is that? Reddit Gifts focuses on creating global gift exchanges to help spread happiness throughout the world. About Reddit Gifts and Reddit Gift Exchanges
Several years ago a local Mother and her son decided to do random acts of kindness around town. They shovelled their neighbor’s driveway, they baked cookies and took them to the Emergency Room staff at a Saskatoon hospital, they volunteered at the Salvation Army, they took baked goods to RCMP offices in small towns outside the city. Many of their happiness acts were done in secret. They “payed it forward” by leaving a note for people that they had been RACK-ED – standing for Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, and handed out these cards:
Kids Spread a Little Kindness
Projects like this are a great way to teach our kids that at this time, it’s not all about what we can get, but it’s what we can give.” And if you’ve never tried something like this, you soon discover that there is more satisfaction in giving, than getting.
If pre-school kids can do it, as above, so can we.
Last year an Ottawa Bus Driver stood in a snowbank with just a shirt and pants, no coat, to help people board during a snow storm. A video shared on Facebook went viral and shows the man getting out of the bus at each stop and reaching out to help passengers get on the bus. Many praised the driver for his kindness and compassion.
A local policeman was “caught in the act” of giving a hot meal to a homeless father and son.
Another police officer bought groceries and rented a hotel for a family after he saw them sleeping on the veranda of an abandoned house.
A meteorologist, with the volunteer help of a snow clearing company, set out to help people clear their driveways the morning after he forecasted a record snowfall.
Can we inspire our kids to how to make the world a better place, and teach them how one little change can have an enormous impact? For example, if they were to stand up for a kid who was being bullied.
We don’t get a lot of time to sit down and have a worldly conversation with our kids. Do most kids even know what poverty is? Let’s ask them.
Habitat for Humanity
When Asked what Acts of Kindness they have Observed, People Responded with Things Like This:
Spread a Little Happiness Acts that Don’t Cost a Penny:
Tuck happy notes on people’s windshields.
Smile at everyone you see today.
Compliment 3 people today – genuinely.
Let someone in line in front of you.
Be nice to a stranger.
Volunteer in your local community.
Make amends with someone.
Contact an old friend.
Be a good listener when someone needs to vent.
Pass along a great book you’ve just read.
Offer someone a ride who doesn’t have a vehicle.
Call that older relative you should have called months ago.
Mow a neighbor’s lawn.
Invite someone over to share a meal.
Spend more time with your kids.
Ask your kids how they can spread a little happiness.
Donate old clothes and toys.
Leave chalk messages on the sidewalks where you live.
Write letters to your siblings telling them why you admire them.
Write letters to your spouse and children telling them why you admire them.
Deliver cookies to your neighbors.
Compliment and thank your neighbors on their nice yard decorations.
With your kids, take some seldom-used toys to the Children’s Hospital.
Give a blanket to a homeless person.
Write thank you notes to all the people you take for granted – the postman, the garbage man, the school receptionist, the teachers.
Ask someone what you can do to help.
Help around the house without being asked.
Do something kind for that person that annoys you.
Offer to help an elderly relative or neighbor with shopping or decorating.
Talk to someone new at school or at work, welcome them, try to make them feel included.
Offer to walk someone else’s dog.
Bring your well-behaved dog (doesn’t jump on people, doesn’t beg, will sit) for a visit at a local nursing home. There’s nothing like a happy animal to raise someone’s spirits.
When out shovelling your walk or raking your leaves, it’s not too much more effort to do the same for a neighbour. Consider it good exercise as well.
Hold the door for people behind you, especially if the person behind is carrying packages, bags or kids.
Volunteer at a local breakfast program.
Drive your grandparents, elderly parents and their friends to doctor’s appointments or the movies. They (and their aging bodies) will value the gesture.
Volunteer. Pick a cause that’s near and dear to your heart and donate your time to them.
Take your neighbour’s trash to, or from, the curb while you’re taking yours. Imagine their surprise when they see that the chore is already done.
If you’re in line at the grocery store with a full cart, let the person behind you who only has 5-10 items go in front of you.
Offer to take care of a neighbour’s pet when they go away on a small vacation. They’ll be comfortable knowing their pet is in good hands.
Help someone who looks lost with directions. Most people are intimidated and feel vulnerable when they’re lost, offering to help them find their destination will relieve them.
Donate blood. One single donation can help up to 4 people – that should be inspiring enough. Check out the Canadian Blood Services website for more information.
Give your used clothes and housewares to a local non-profit Used Goods store, like the Diabetes Association.
Help an elderly person off the bus or cross the road by offering to take their arm or carry their packages.
Offer to babysit a friend’s kids one night so she and her partner can enjoy romantic evening out.
Bring your old magazines to a hospital waiting room to make patients’ waits a little less nerve racking.
Write an e-mail to a good friend or family member to let them know how much you value them.
Volunteer yourself to walk an elderly neighbour’s dog once a week. Getting out for a walk isn’t overly easy for many elderly folk.
Instead of pretending you don’t notice, like the rest of the rushing crowd, someone struggling to get a stroller down the stairs, take a second and offer to help.
Offer an elderly person, a pregnant woman, a physically disabled person – or just someone who looks tired – your seat on the bus.
Help keep your city clean. Pick up plastic bottles and other trash you see around your neighbourhood.
Visit a nursing home just to chat with some of the residents, as many of them don’t get regular visitors.
Pick a day to smile at everyone you pass on the street. Smiling is contagious.
Whenever you hear that someone is moving, or an event is coming up, offer to help with even a small thing.
Don’t forget your immediate family.
Spread a Little Happiness Acts that Cost Less than a Few Dollars:
Leave some quarters at a laundromat or vending machine.
Bring a muffin and coffee to one, or all, your co-workers.
Leave some dollars in the kid’s section at the Dollar Store.
Give a treat to the mailman.
Tape candy canes to car windshields.
Take cookies to the Doctor’s Office.
Buy a $5 gift card for groceries and hand it to the person behind you
Give a lottery ticket to a stranger.
Leave a generous tip for a waitress.
Cut fresh flowers from your garden, or buy them, and bring them to your local nursing home.
Bring someone less fortunate a plant or some fresh flowers. This is something they might not want to spend money on.
Make soup or a meal for a friend or relative recovering from surgery or an illness.
Take your sibling’s or friend’s kids out for the day – to the movies, apple picking, for a hike. The parents could use a break and the kids will love it.
Put together a basket of treats for a friend who has had a death in the family. Deliver it after the funeral has taken place, when most friends have gone home.
Sit down with your family and estimate what you’d spend on each other for gifts. Instead of buying each other gifts for birthdays or holidays, suggest spending the same money on Secret Santa gifts for strangers or any of the suggested acts of kindness above.
Make dinner for friends with a newborn baby.
Pay for the person behind you at the drive thru. It will make someone’s day!
Around Christmas time, find a holiday angel program in your community. You can donate basic things like toothpaste, towels, sheets and pyjamas for a family in need to open on Christmas morning.
If there is a new immigrant family in your neighborhood, put together a basket of food and toys that they might enjoy.
Volunteer to do a grocery shopping for your grandparents’ or someone recovering from an illness.
Don’t forget your own little family; surprise them with a special treat on a random day.
The idea of Secret Santa gifts are the best fun. Knowing that you did something kind for someone without expecting or receiving any reward such as a thank you is soul-satisfying in the best possible way. So spread a little happiness, not just this Christmas, and not just while travelling, but all year long.
I told Santa you’ve been good all year.
He died laughing!
Wishing all of you, dear readers…
a really Cheerful Merry Christmas that spreads a little Happiness
the Very Best of New Years in 2017