Happy New Year, friends!! Are you so ready to tackle 2018 and show it who’s boss?! I hope the holidays treated you well and afforded you opportunities to rest, relax and spend time with those you love most.
I love the Christmas holidays immensely. The decorations, the carols, the city lit up in lights…it always ignites a warm and cozy feeling inside me, like there’s a certain magic in the air we’re all experiencing that makes us a little kinder, a little softer, a little more understanding of one another. We hold doors for strangers, wait patiently in long checkout lines, surprise our friends with sweet gifts and genuinely want to spread cheer wherever we go.
And then Christmas comes and goes, we pop champagne and cheers to the arrival of a new year and a fresh canvas to fill with our hopes, dreams and goals, and swiftly head back into the hustle-and-bustle of our regularly scheduled programs — often with the dread of Visa bills and a long January replacing that warm Christmas cheer in our souls. We forget to hold doors, we get impatient in long lines, we get too busy to slow down and take care of ourselves, let alone notice when others around us need taking care of, and, by the third week of January, our resolutions are out the window and we’re back to the same old, same old. Sound familiar?
Now, I get this is one of those “novel ideas” that’s easier said than done…a quaint notion…but hear me out: what if we could actually apply that level of Christmas kindness all year round? I know — I KNOW. I just quoted a thousand Christmas carols and it sounds too sunny and rose-tinted to be reality, but again…WHAT IF?
On the evening of Dec. 21st I was out doing the late-night, last-minute shopping thing, hitting all the major shopping areas in search of kinetic sand for my son and loading up on last-minute goodies to put under the tree. My back seat was full of bags, as was my passenger seat. (Side note: did you know if you pile heavy bags on your passenger seat, the seat belt sensor thinks a person is sitting there and the seat belt alarm will ding until you go crazy and pull over to re-arrange your bags?? Lesson learned!!) I decided to go through the McDonald’s drive-thru for a Coke (a rare treat - don’t judge) and, in my wallet, I had my plastic cards plus a $20 bill, neither of which I wanted to use for such a small purchase, so I scrounged through my change cup, my purse and my floor mats to come up with the $1.65 I needed to cover my drink and not break that $20 bill. Then, as I was pulling out of the drive-thru, window almost up, I heard a small voice to my left asking if I had any spare change. I glanced and saw a man I’d seen a few days earlier when I was having lunch downtown with my son. It was a -33 night and he was freezing cold, standing in a somewhat sheltered-from-the-wind corner, wearing a large backpack and an inadequate winter jacket. I couldn’t stop, as there was already a car pulling up behind me, but I remembered my $20 bill and quickly pulled over to park. I grabbed the money from my wallet, put my toque and gloves back on, and ran over to talk to this man. I apologized for not hearing him in time to stop and offered the $20, which he gratefully took, and then told me he had something for me as well. I wasn’t at all nervous, but instead thought it was sweet that he would think things needed to be a “fair trade”, so to speak. He pulled a notebook out of his heavy pack and I saw some handwriting on the first page, with the same thing copied on a few more pages. He ripped one page out and gave it to me, saying he hoped there would be something in his words that would help me as much as I had just helped him. We shook hands, we exchanged names, wished each other a Merry Christmas, and I ran back to my car. My fingertips were frozen as I pulled the piece of paper up to read it and I couldn’t fathom how this man was surviving in such icy temps. His words said:
By the end of the page, I was in tears. My heart felt torn out. I wished I could do more to help him — help everyone in his position — and yet, I was more touched by this man’s kindness and the transfer of positive energy that happened between us than I was sad. I felt something change inside me, as I looked around at the bags and bags of STUFF in my car. Next year, Christmas will be about making memories and helping others and may not include a tree at all, let alone shiny presents underneath it. And every day leading up to next Christmas will be treated no differently than the holidays themselves. I don’t predict it will be an easy shift to consciously and repeatedly choose kindness as I foresee all kinds of moments arising that will test my commitment to this and make me want to choose anger or impatience or frustration instead, but I’m committed nonetheless.
Now I know I was brought onboard to blog about fashion but, like red lipstick, little black dresses, and Gucci bags, KINDNESS never goes out of style. Will you make it your go-to accessory in 2018, too?