Each day I wrote on a little slip of paper the act of kindness:
Here are some of my favorites:
*Sent a good morning text of encouragement to a friend having a rough time during the holidays.
*Taped $1 bills to Hot Wheels at Target (and nearly got caught by a friend).
*Gave a Sweet treat to the cashier at Target who was sad she only got one day off during the holidays.
*Brought carts in from the parking lot at stores a few times. Sometimes my hubby joined me in the fun. We might have had races in the parking lot…oh, okay. We did. It was great fun. No cars were harmed.
*Edited and scanned photos for a neighbor who isn’t very tech-savvy. She got a new Facebook profile pic for the first time in 18 months.
*Gave a fella who was having a really rough day a big hug. (For future reference, this works best when you know said fella.)
*Bought drinks for the car behind me at Starbucks several times. I learned this happens often, the baristas are pretty used to it. How great is that? A few times I considered waiting around the corner to see the look on people’s faces but tried hard to remember that’s not why I was doing this. But it still would have been fun to see their faces!
*Took a gluten-free pizza kit to a family member of a friend who is newly gluten-free so she could enjoy the family Christmas pizza dinner. (Thanks to Elf Renee who helped me carry out this one!)
*Took Sweets to the baristas at Starbucks.
*Made fun balloons for kids at a gathering for families who have lost a member in military service.
*Left Sweets in the mailbox for our mail carrier.
*Let folks in front of me at the grocery store every time it was practical for a month. One lady thanked me and then turned back, with a look of relief on her face and said, “It looks like you are feeding an army.” I guess my cart WAS pretty full and she had just an armful.
*Left an oreo truffle snowman for a neighbor who has a super cute snowman display in her front windows. I don’t know her but I enjoy seeing the snowmen as I drive by.
*Stuck some pretty good coupons in my favorite section of the grocery store.
Similar to what I discovered when doing the Hunger Challenge, many of the lessons from this will stick with me throughout the year. There’s no reason I can’t send an encouraging note to friends more often, no reason I can’t let folks in front of me at the store when I’m not in a hurry. I can always take in at least one cart to the store (the one I’ll be using) and I might occasionally tape a dollar or two to a healthy treat or a toy. I always have time to be kind.
Here is what I did not expect to happen: the day I started doing this, I realized I had become the recipient of many random acts of holiday kindness.
I went to a holiday party and found one of my baking students had brought a snack that was gluten-free so I could enjoy a Sweet, too. While it tickled me that there was something for me to eat, it made me downright giddy he was using the skills he learned in my class!
At a blogger event hosted by Kristen of Dine and Dish, I was treated to several gluten-free snack options. Seriously, who does that? She had made sure there were options for me. After 2 1/2 years of eating gluten-free, this shocks me when it happens. And for it to happen TWICE in a week? Well, I was just on cloud nine.
Then my car caught a cold. A $2,000 cold. After getting the estimate, I asked the folks at the car dealer to please not do the work, it was too much money this time of year. When I went to pick my car up, they told me they had already done the oil change, but Merry Christmas! WHAT?!? They gifted me a $100 oil change. And it just got better…my husband and two mechanically-inclined friends talked through the work that needed to be done, rounded up the parts and two of them spent a day fixing up my little ride. For 20% of the dealer price, my car was all better. All of this unexpected goodness just kept rolling my way…
One day my friend Tina called and asked if I’d like to come over to make divinity. It’s my sister’s favorite holiday treat and try as I may, I can’t make it. Tina helped me last year and this year was no different. She gifted me divinity to mail to my sister again this year and I stood in her kitchen pretending to help, even though I’m no good at candy making.
At the gathering above when I mentioned making balloons for those little cuties, I spotted these really cute cookies. I asked where they came from and was pointed to a super sweet lady, raising her grandson who lost a parent in combat. I just wanted to tell her how cute her cookies were, instead she was so kind to me that she insisted I take cookies home and she shared with me a few tips on how to make them. See how that works? I went there to offer an act of kindness and came home with a great new idea, one that I used for some of my acts of kindness.
The holidays sure did seem a lot brighter because of this project. I was focused on making it better for others and in the process, took notice of the things others were doing to make it brighter for others around them, too. I’m excited to do it again in 2012!