No need to plan kindness this season
Are you done? Have you finished all the hustle and bustle that comes with creating the magic of the season? If so, good for you! (Now can you come to my house and help me?)
If not, take heart. Ironically, it's in the midst of our craziest schedules that we are most blessed with the chance to show other people they are not alone.
Maybe you adopt a family for Christmas or pull a child's name off a giving tree. Maybe you donate canned goods to the food bank or serve a meal at the homeless shelter.
Please don't feel discouraged if you haven't planned any specific charitable acts. The most beautiful opportunities for kindness will come to us if we go about our business with one eye on our own needs and one on the needs of others.
A woman named Mindy was shopping with her daughter in Janesville, Wis., when they came across someone who looked like he could use a little holiday magic.
"We were checking out at Walmart and there was a man behind us who looked like he didn't have a lot of money. We actually thought perhaps he was homeless. He was waiting to buy a box of candy when my 14-year-old daughter, Mia, whispered in my ear, 'Mom, you should pay for that guy's stuff.' I thought that was a great suggestion, so I added his candy to our bill, and we headed out of the store.
As we were walking to the van, I said, 'You know I should have given him the $20 bill that was in my wallet, too." My daughter agreed. While unloading our groceries I said, 'If I give it to you, will you walk back to the front of the store (where he was sitting outside eating his candy) and give it to him?'
Mia got really nervous and said she didn't know if she could. I tried to calm her nerves by reminding her how cool it would be and also said, 'If it makes you feel any better, you'll probably never see him again, so you don't need to be embarrassed.' She decided she would go, despite her nerves.
She bravely walked back to where the man was still sitting and said, 'Hi, sir, my mom and I wanted you to have this.' I was so proud of her.
The man thanked Mia in a somewhat timid voice.
After the exchange, I asked my daughter how she felt. As we talked about how maybe that box of candy was his only meal for the day, and how good it feels to help, she wondered aloud why we feel so nervous reaching out to others. I'm not sure, but I think we all have that hesitation of embarrassing the other person."
Kindness certainly carries a risk, but the reward we get as the giver is more precious than anything we could find in a stocking or under a tree.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University's men's head basketball coach Saul Phillips. You can visit Nicole at " target="_blank">nicolejphillips.com.