Sunday, December 7, 2008
Free Christmas Joy
Ideas abound on the internet and elsewhere this time of year for ways to spend less during the holiday season. The desire to live more simply is also a common theme as are articles on how to combat stress and the holiday blues.
Our Christmas celebration has changed drastically over the past four years. My husband had a stroke in 2004 that left him with partial right-sided paralysis and aphasia. He was a creative handyman around the house but now we have to rely on others or hire someone if I cannot do it myself. And he is super sensitive to the cold weather so doesn't venture outside on days when the temps are below freezing. These are just minor details of the 180 degree turnaround our life has taken.
The holidays always seem to crystalize the changes we've had to make. We used to get a tree that was at least nine feet tall and it was my husband's job to set it up and string the lights. Obviously that tradition is a thing of the past. We now have a small artificial tree that sits on a table. At the end of the holidays I wrap it up and my son carries it downstairs. The following December, he carries it back up and except for a few dislodged ornaments, the tree is up and decorated.
One of the things I have learned these past few years is how much a kind word or action, a random act of kindness, can mean. Whether or not it is obvious that someone is going through a difficult season, even a small act of kindness can have a huge effect. I have been on the receiving end many times and so speak from experience. And since we all know that it's better to give than to receive, I think that a random act of kindness can go a long way in our struggle to find meaning in this hectic holday season.
Rowena Alegria, writing in Stroke Smart magazine this month, suggests just that. Spread the Kindness This Season is her article giving 31 ideas that we can use to make someone's day or holiday a little brighter. Here are a few of her ideas (and a couple of mine thrown in). See if you can't find something you can do.
Pay a visit, lend a hand, say hello
Wave back at children who wave at you (or wave first!)
Share a smile, forgive mistakes, lend an ear
Open a door, let another go first, be tolerant
Offer a hug, compliment a stranger, praise someone's cooking
Check on a neighbor who lives alone
Reach an item on a high shelf for someone shorter than you
Help someone carry or lift a heavy item
Bring in a neighbor's mail on a cold day
Shovel a neighbor's driveway
Remove obstacles from a road or walking path
Pick up litter (this is a favorite of my husband when we take walks!)
When you receive superior service, let that person's manager or supervisor know
Offer to babysit so a busy mother can do some holiday errands
Take cookies to a neighbor
Send a card to someone out of town to let them know you're thinking of them
Want more inspiration? Visit The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation's website for testimonies from people who have received or provided an unexpected act of kindness.
So there you have it: the one-size-fits-all solution to spending less, relieving stress and combating holiday blues. Try it today....and tomorrow....and the day after that....