I texted my friend the other day to try and organise a “friends coffee gathering” before Christmas. A few minutes later she rang me from the Hospital Stroke Unit with the news that her husband had suffered a second stroke a few days earlier. She doesn’t drive and hadn’t wanted to bother us because she didn’t want to be any trouble.
Well of course, the first thing we did was drive her to the hospital the next day. It’s what we would all do for a friend.
But it got me thinking – we get so wrapped up in our own little Christmas bubble that we forget what others may be going through. Life happens. We’re glad when friends call to help us through a difficult time, but what how can we do more to help others. Friends, even strangers.
“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed” Maya Angelou.
Here’s my 5 thoughts on how to show kindness during the season of giving
1 Flowers for a friend.
Take flowers to a friend. Or a basket of winter fruits. Or a tray of cookies. Just because. You don’t really need a reason. Christmas is one of the times of year you can just turn up on a friend’s doorstop with an armful of kindness for no reason other than it’s Christmas.
If your friend is having a good day – you’ll be the cherry on the cake. If they’re having a rubbish day – you’ll cheer them up. If they are in a really bad way – you might just have turned up at the right moment to be their “help” in a time of true need.
You never know what people are going through.
2 Love thy neighbour
When you write your Christmas cards, set aside an extra bunch for your neighbours. But don’t just drop them through the letterbox and run (tempting), knock on the door and take the chance to meet them. Find out if it’s a family or a couple, a single Mum of an elderly gent. Ask what they’re doing for Christmas and you’ll have a mental map of who might be on their own, who might need help with the shopping, and who you can look out for in the year ahead.
3 The doorstep surprise.
This is one of my favourites and something I have done quite a few times with my cake business. The idea is to leave something nice on a neighbour’s doorstep. A few years ago I baked gingerbread cookies, packaged them up in pretty bags and delivered them to my neighbours doorsteps. Everyone was thrilled with their suprise.
You just need to make sure they’re home, and their parcel is wrapped up well so it doesn’t get chewed by the local cat, or trodden on by the postman.
4 Pay it forward
Do you know how this works? “Coffee sospeso” – its Italian for “suspended coffee” or “pending coffee”. You pay extra at your local coffee shop so the next person gets a gifted coffee. An anonymous act of kindness. It might not be someone in financial need but they’ll get a lovely surprise and it’ll be sure to make their day.
5 Keep someone warm
Search out your local homeless charity and find out what they need. Warm coats, scarfs and hats are in demand during winter months. Then dig into the back of your wardrobe and find something you no longer wear in your wardrobe. You could apply the 12 month rule – if you haven’t worm it for 12 months, then you’re not likely to need it anytime soon!
6 Babysit for friends
This will only work for friends that you know really well. Friends whose children know you and trust you. It’s a super busy month for families with small children. How about giving the parents the chance for a rare date night. And don’t expect to be paid – just do it because it’s nice. They might just love you forever.
I’m sure there’s lots more ideas and once you start it could become a way of life. I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.
“In a world where you can be anything, be kind”
That’s all for now.