As a young mother raising babies and toddlers, I struck up a friendship with an elderly woman in my neighborhood. A retired school teacher, it thrilled her heart to have the neighborhood children play in her yard. My own three kids have such fond memories of splashing in her swimming pool in the hot summers or making snowmen in her front yard during the chilly winter months. She had a warm smile, a welcoming attitude, and always made space in her life for other people.
One afternoon during the Christmas season, we were visiting with her, enjoying steaming mugs of homemade hot cocoa. Her face brightened as she talked of Christmases past. Often her family would arrange with the local orphanage to have a child or two spend Christmas with them instead of remaining in the orphanage over the holidays. They took these children in as if they were their own, complete with presents, stockings, and sweet treats. When I expressed my amazement at such a kind gesture she said something I have never forgotten. It was her philosophy of Christmas. She declared, “Oh honey. Christmas is an excuse to make someone else’s life better.
Christmas is an excuse to make someone else’s life better.
She and her husband, when he was alive, made it a point to reach out during the holiday season and gather others in. To help financially. Or emotionally. To provide what was lacking in the lives of those all around them, whether they were people in the neighborhood or strangers in the town. Parents might need help buying presents. Individuals may need companionship if they were lonely at the holidays. Or maybe someone needed a little emotional support or physical help, getting many of the tasks done that the Christmas season brings.
Her phrase so stuck with me that I discussed it with my husband and we decided to adopt this philosophy and our own family as well. And so, we too set out to use the holiday season as an excuse to help others. Sometimes this meant undertaking a bigger project, like the time we pulled off a 12 days of Christmas surprise for a friend of ours who was facing their first Christmas as a single parent of five children. We arranged for 11 other families to join us in leaving a basket of surprises for this family each morning for the 12 days leading up to Christmas Eve. Each day when they awoke, on their front porch was a big market basket piled high with presents. It might be gift certificates to stores, gift cards to area restaurants, small presents for each of the kids, or homemade goodies for them to enjoy as a family. There was also an anonymous card of encouragement with instructions to put the basket back on the porch so it could once again be filled the next morning. How fun it was to hear this family talk about the all the things they were receiving each day and to wonder out loud who in the world was behind it all. We never did tell.
It doesn’t have to be on such a grand scale. Your family can learn to scatter kindness at the holidays by performing a very simple gesture. Here are six ideas that will help you and your children to better someone’s life at Christmastime by encouraging a worker, stranger, neighbor, or other person whom God puts in your path. Most can be done while out and about during your normal December routine. Be sure to also download the free printable with some encouraging premade notecards for you to include as you scatter some Christmas kindness!
Ready? Let the confetti of kindness fly!
- Gift a cashier, gas attendant, grocery bagger, bank teller, or another worker with a sweet or salty treat and a note attached thanking them for their diligent work.
- Over-tip a restaurant server, barista, hair stylist, nail technician, or other such worker and attach a note thanking them for their faithful service all year long. Tell them “You’ve been tipped over!!!”
- Take hot cocoa, a latte, or another delicious drink to a Salvation Army bell ringer, construction worker, crossing guard, school car pool line worker, or any other person who works outside.
- Buy a gift card to a local bakery and leave it on a coworker’s desk or taped to a friend or neighbor’s door along with a note telling them your life is sweeter for knowing them.
- Drop a food gift off to a shut in, elderly neighbor, or another person who may be lonely this time of year. Offer to help them with any of their holiday tasks such as wrapping presents, addressing their Christmas cards, or Christmas gift shopping.
- Make the mail carrier’s day! Leave a treat or small gift in the mailbox for them along with a note of thanks for faithfully delivering the mail all year long.
Alright. Are you ready? Grab your family and go make someone’s day! It will end up making yours as well.
Karen Ehman, KarenEhman.com