Yesterday we stopped off at Starbucks for my favourite chai latte, toasted panini with slow roasted tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil pesto. One of the Christmas carols which were playing, was Johnny Mathis singing that old song “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” It reminded me of a Maxine cartoon I once saw, and having seen the shopping frenzy at the Mall last weekend, it seems very appropriate.
It seems to me, that with every passing year, Christmas is more and more about getting ‘stuff’, rather than the actual “good will to all men,” which it used to be. “What do you want for Christmas?” or “What presents are you getting?” are questions we’re often asked at this time of year. Adults are often worse than the children, and have their sights set on acquiring all the loot which has eluded them throughout the year, and they encourage their children to do the same. I was reading the other day that someone every year unashamedly makes a “Greed List!” For myself, I would much rather have a small token gift, which is given with love, than something I’ve ‘ordered’. Santa is most welcome to bring unexpected little surprises for which I will be very grateful.
The subject of unexpected gifts got me thinking about “random acts of kindness,” which actually cost us very little, and sometimes absolutely nothing at all in monetary terms. Even here in Florida, I see homeless people, begging at the traffic lights. It’s such a sad sight, and I’m sure they get so used to people just ignoring them, as though they’re invisible. Have you ever given them something, and seen their face light up because your kindness and recognition was so unexpected? I remember once, many years ago when we were travelling from Johannesburg to Durban for our holidays, we stopped at a gas station, and I went to use the restroom. I’m usually highly irritated by the cleaners hanging around the wash basins hoping for a tip, but that day, a little voice in my head told me to be kind, and before I knew it, I’d pulled out a R20 note and wished her a happy Christmas. I think I was as surprised as she was, but we both felt really good about it.
The unexpected kindness,
From an unexpected place.
A hand outstretched in friendship,
A smile on someone’s face.
A word of understanding,
Spoken in an hour of trial.
Are unexpected miracles,
That make life more worthwhile. ~ Helen Steiner Rice
I’m not suggesting that we go around showering strangers with handouts, but perhaps we do need to think of others much more than we do. We all live in the same world and are all trying to get by the best way we can, so we need to show one another a little more respect and kindness; a bit more courtesy on the roads, not fighting someone for that coveted parking space, a smile to a stranger, making a long overdue phone call, saying you’re sorry even though you don’t think you were in the wrong, taking a friend a bunch of flowers. All these things can make an unexpected difference in our lives and the lives of those around us.
Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. ~Mark Twain
(My header is the beautifully decorated reception area at our club.)