I’m waiting for the letter carrier. She’s a nice lady.
I have a Christmas Card for her. It contains a $50 bill just like last year.
She’s the only person we do this for. Lately, I know she’s bucking for the same Christmas tip she got last year. She’s been getting out of her vehicle to do a lot of ‘special deliveries’ on our porch and inside the garage. She even signed something for us – something I’m not sure she’s technically allowed to do.
I don’t mind her obvious December campaign for the bonus. It just shows me she appreciates it. And, she deserves it. And, it’s a rare opportunity to make someone I don’t really know happy because she’s in something of a thankless job and does it well.
To me, these little acts are the true spirit of Christmas. Last year, our letter carrier made sure she sent us a nice thank you card. I imagined the things she might have done with the money.
I like doing things like that and it’s a shame I don’t often get the chance.
I was a little worried this year that I might have to knock the gift down a little but I didn’t so that was good.
There’s a Salvation Army kettle in front of the Wal-Mart, as usual. I usually drop a few bucks or two in the kettle over the course of the season. I’m a little conflicted because of the Army’s social-political positions but I think the good outweighs the bad in this case.
But I’d rather give directly to people and make their day a little brighter. Maybe there are ways you can do that too. I’ve heard of people picking up checks for diners. That’s a little iffy since you don’t really know them. But if you overhear a story from them that makes you think your gift might really be appreciated, I say go for it.
Same thing in lines for groceries and toys. Maybe there is some more good you or I can do to pay it forward.
I don’t have much human contact and people generally scare me, now more than ever.
But in our cruel and heartless age, the ability to give personally and selflessly is perhaps needed now more than ever.
Garrison Keillor once wrote an essay on kindness. It was received with much venom from people who thought Keillor’s kindness came out of their pockets at the barrel of a gun to be given to undeserving people who would blow it on cigarettes and booze. ‘Kindness’ in their eyes, became something liberals do that throws the wheels of social Darwinism out of whack and therefore must be resisted with stern discipline.
That column always stuck with me. To me there is nothing wrong with kindness; it makes us human. To many who support the new President, it is instead, seen as a sign of weakness.
I have been let down, I have been betrayed. I have had people go out of their way to hurt me and I still don’t know why. I bet you have too. Kindness is tough. But it separates us from those who would rather watch the world burn.
We could do a lot of good if we were more aware of the little things we could do to spread happiness around us. I miss so much because of my paranoia and distrust. I have blinders on as I go through the day so I am not distracted or accosted. My mail carrier is someone that is easy for me to remember and someone I can PLAN on doing something nice at Christmas. That is the word – PLAN.
For those of us with our various mental conditions, spontaneous displays of emotion and charity can be frightening.
But maybe if we’re a little more mindful, all of us can do something to make another person’s day brighter at this time of year – and all year. To me, this represents a personal struggle to maintain my humanity. I want to preserve that humanity; but it’s hard.
So, let me finish with a story of an act of kindness I still don’t believe.
I was moving from Sioux Falls to my hometown of Chardon and my U-Haul broke down in the Quad Cities. They sent a tow truck driver who left me in a U-Haul facility where a gentleman was endeavoring to get me a new truck. There were few available in the area and it was going to be tough. I might have to spend the night there and I was very nervous.
But he got me a new truck and gave me the keys and asked me to back it up to the old truck where he would help me transfer all the stuff from the broken truck into this new one.
I backed up without looking in the mirror and promptly caved in the side of a sedan that was sitting next to the bay.
I was beyond panicked – I was mortified. Now this would be an insurance issue – what more could go wrong.
Well, the guy came over and told me to forget about it. Maybe he could see the pain and panic on my face, I don’t know. He would NOT take my insurance card. “It’s just a go-for car we drive around the lot,” he said. “Don’t worry about it.”
I DID make him take all the cash in my wallet – around $100 which he said he would donate to his family church.
And then he helped me transfer all my stuff from one truck to another and I was on my way.
There are angels on earth and maybe you will meet one someday. I met one that day and I will always remember and feel grateful. I have no idea what he told his boss about the crumpled door of the sedan.
So, when I think of what I can do, I remember the kindness shown me that day and I have endeavored to pay it forward ever since.
May your holidays be one of active giving, your time, your money, yourselves.
OK, this is sappy but I don’t care. I may never forget a hurt, but I also never remember a kindness.
And after all, isn’t that what this season is all about?
|Here are some ideas|