Sunday, December 23, 2007

Keep Spreading that Holiday Cheer

I don’t know what it is about the holiday season. It brings out the best and the worst in people at the same time. It is a time of year when people are the most generous they can be, and the goodness of the human spirit is alive and well. It is also the time of year when people get caught up in the hustle of the season. They are stressed out about getting their cards and gifts into the mail. They are cranky from waiting in lines at the mall. They are anxiously gripping their steering wheels as they sit in traffic, rattling off their to-do list in their heads. They wonder how well their holiday meal will be received when their guests arrive. Will it be as good as it looked on Martha Stewart’s show? Somehow the same people who just dropped money into the Salvation Army can at the supermarket are the same people who are sticking up their middle fingers at people in other cars.

The best story I heard this season about someone spreading cheer I saw on CNN one morning. The story is about an anonymous Santa Claus in Rutland, Vermont. This man had written an anonymous letter to the Rutland Herald, in which he said that he was planning on handing out a dozen or so envelopes containing $50 to random people out at the shops. Sure enough, a non-descript looking man was reported to have handed out an envelope containing $50 in front of the Walmart and in front of the other shopping centers in town as well.

It’s stories like these that I keep filed away in the back of my mind for the moments when the holiday hustle gets the best of me. It came in handy the other day. I was driving in the parking lot at the liquor store, an old man pulled out of a parking space right in front of me. I stopped and he crossed my path before he realized that he pulled out right in front of me. Then he began to gesture at me, like I had done something to offend him. He began to rant and rave behind his steering wheel. His middle finger came up and he waved it at me. I saw that his window was open, and saw my opportunity. I pulled up to him, rolled down my window and said “Merry Christmas.” I blew him a kiss, rolled up my window and passed him.

I went into the liquor store, and watched a man be very rude to the woman working the counter. He left the store and I could tell that she was irritated. I decided I’d spread some cheer, and I told her the story about the anonymous Santa in Rutland, VT. She smiled and was obviously accessing her Christmas cheer story that she kept filed away in the back of her mind. She told me about when she was waiting in line at the Dunkin Donuts a few days before. She said that a man several people behind her was in a bad mood, and very vocal about it. He was swearing up a storm, stomping around, and generally making other people around him miserable as well.

Then the man in line in front of her said to the woman behind the counter, “Here,” he handed her a few dollars, “Buy the loud guy a coffee on me. He looks like he could use some Christmas cheer.”

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. You still have a chance. Spread some of your own holiday cheer and do something nice for someone else. Hold open a door for a stranger. Empty your change purse into the Salvation Army can. Let someone cut in front of you in line at the supermarket. And when someone is letting the holiday season get to them, wish them a happy holiday, or tell them a holiday cheer story. It just might make them smile and remember to appreciate the good in the season too.

Happy Holidays to you, my Internet friends.



Blogger Gypsy said...

I wish I'd read this earlier in the week. I've been kind of Grinchy.

December 27, 2007 at 9:44 AM  

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