The season for family, the season for commercialism, the season to hold your loved ones close, and most importantly: for giving.
I’m a sucker for random acts of kindness. An extra smile, holding the door open for someone, an extra big tip, or a random compliment can mean so much to a person, even though it may not be a lot of effort for you. You never know what kind of day someone is having, and how your small actions can affect their life in a big way.
Last week, a young couple– around high school age– sat down at a booth in my section of the restaurant. They ordered waters, and asked about prices of desserts before ordering one to split. It was clear that they were on a first date, and it was absolutely adorable. Immediately next to them was a booth of four very outgoing people: a grandmother, her daughters, and an older grandchild. They immediately noticed the young couple at the table next to them, and pulled me aside quietly. The ring-leader of the group asked for me to put the couple’s dessert on their check, and tell them that Secret Santa had taken care of it for them. It touched me so much that they wanted to do this for them, but made it clear they wanted it to be anonymous. I almost teared up at the gesture.
Time came for the couple to ask for the bill, and the look of shock on their face when I had the privilege tell them that their bill was already taken care of was priceless. The young man who was going to take care of the bill actually said “Is this a joke?” and made me assure him he wasn’t going to get in trouble if he left without paying. They were in genuine shock and awe that they had just gotten a free meal, courtesy of a total stranger. I was so happy I got to be the one to witness their excitement that they were the target of such an act of kindness. (And the tip they left me after getting a free meal didn’t hurt either.)
It’s things like this that really made me love the holiday season.
People are so grateful, and giving to one another. It’s been my dream each year that I would one day be in a financially stable enough situation that I would be able to play Lay-A-way Santa, and anonymously pay for someone’s Christmas presents on lay-a-way at a store. The holidays can be such a burden financially and cause so much stress at a time that is supposed to be magical, which is exactly the opposite of how it should be. Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate!) should be about family, friends and giving back, which is something I think we tend to forget.
Though we see tons of stories on the news and online about the not-so-nice things that tend to happen this time of year (see: Black Friday Shopping stampedes, and mobs at stores for special deals around the holiday season– like the pepper-spray incident at my local mall over some fancy shoe sale?), it’s things like this that really make the holiday season.
So, while you’re out getting your friends and family gifts, and taking advantage of the theme for the holiday season, remember to pass it on as well. Giving should never feel like an obligation, as so many people view it, but should be viewed as a privilege. The group that took care of the young couple’s dessert said they were fortunate enough to be able to have nights out like they do, and just wanted to pass it along. Tossing a few cents in the holiday collection bucket, or dropping off a toy to a local toy drive can make a world of difference for someone else in need, while it may not affect your life as much. It never hearts to pass the joy along to someone else.