When I was a child, my parents lived life flying by the seat of their pants. My home was fun and spontaneous but not always well-planned.
This was never more true than with vacations. My family went snow skiing literally every year for Christmas. Yet, this somehow caught my parents by surprise each December.
The year I was about 10 years old, my siblings and I got home from school for winter break. My mom decided to start thinking about our travel plans, since Christmas was five days away. She called to make reservations, and the only available flight was on Christmas Day.
My mom hated the idea of people having to work on a holiday to accommodate people like us. But if we were going to go skiing that year, it was our only option. In addition to the enormous task of getting my big family ready for a vacation plus Christmas, my mom took us shopping for gifts to give the flight crew. If we were going to be those people who flew on Christmas, we could at least bear gifts.
A few days later, we were ready to board our flight. As a middle child, I got to do the jobs no one else in my family wanted to do. Which, that day, was giving the gifts to the flight crew.
I was a shy kid. Without making eye contact, I passed out the gifts as quickly as I could and took my seat, relieved it was over.
The plane took off. When we reached cruising altitude, the flight attendant tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Miss, I need you to come with me.”
I followed her all the way up to first class, where she sat me in an empty seat and pampered me with food and drinks for the entire flight. She even gave me ice cream.
While my family was enjoying their six peanuts in coach, I was living a life of luxury! All because my mom cared enough to be kind.
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be overwhelming. Anyone who works retail can attest to the horrors of people this time of year. Family relationships might be strained. December has a lot happening all at once.
Yet it costs zero dollars to be kind.
The Christmas season is hard for many people. Being a little extra considerate goes a long way in making someone’s day brighter.
Compliment someone who feels overlooked. Take warm soup to a grieving widow. Send a restaurant gift card to a single mom or a friend who just lost their job. Overtip servers. Be wildly generous with your time, money, talents, listening ear, kind smile and encouraging words.
Choosing to be kind is one of the greatest gifts you could ever give. You may never know the difference you’ll make today. Or how your children might still remember it three decades later.
Just ask that 10-year-old girl who has never forgotten the sweetest bowl of ice cream.