Spirit of the holidays is in acts of kindness

Every year I watch people put their lives in high gear around the holidays. Everyone is in a big hurry. We have to pack as much into the month of December as possible.  

We meet friends for dinner, shop like crazy, bake cookies till midnight in search of the spirit of the holidays. We pack so much in that at the end we are exhausted, in debt and sad because something was missing. What was missing is the true spirit of the holidays. This year slow down, breathe and use your good manners.

Give the gift of kindness, compassion and patience. Hold a door, offer seniors your seat, let the person driving next to you merge over, wait patiently for the clerk to finish with the person ahead of you, help someone who is less fortunate without an explanation, call someone that you should have checked on a long time ago but have been too busy, plow your neighbor's driveway, take up their paper or garbage cans, make up with someone who really made you mad, let go of a grudge, send a thank you note, say yes please and no thank you, hug someone you haven't hugged in a while, treat someone to lunch that isn't expecting it, leave a waiter a really good tip, pay for the person behind you at the drive-thru window, pop a quarter in an expired meter, donate your time to someone or something, offer to clean the kitchen, surprise your sister and babysit her kids so she can go Christmas shopping, go an visit your grandmother or grandfather, buy a gift for your bank teller or dry cleaner or someone who isn't expecting it, put gas in your wife's car, leave a nice note for someone, bring your assistant a cup of coffee, compliment someone, use a nice tone to speak to someone, offer to carry something for someone, do something for free, hold someone's hand – it doesn't matter what it is, just do it.

Everyday we are surrounded by opportunities to do nice things for people but we are in such a hurry that we miss them. Slow down and look around. Be aware of your surroundings and who might need you, even for just a moment. What may seem like nothing to you could mean the world to that person.

The true spirit of the holiday is not at the mall or at your favorite restaurant. It is in everyday opportunities to be kind and thoughtful and they are around every corner. Slow down for a random act of kindness. It is there that you will experience the true joy of the season.

Colleen Harding lives in Bay Village.

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Volume 2, Issue 24, Posted 4:16 PM, 11.22.2010