By Stephen C. Schultz
The day was overcast and chilly. There was a brisk wind blowing from the North and scattered rain drops splashed off windshields of parked cars. I pulled my collar up around my neck, dipped my head into the wind, and started walking toward the local department store as cigarette butts and bumps of old chewing gum seemed to glide past me on the sidewalk below.
As I approached the east side of the building, I noticed a father and mother, each with a young child in their arms, rushing through the wind towards the door. They had coats wrapped around their young children and were doing their best to shelter them from the ensuing storm. I sped up my pace just a bit and reached the door before them. I swung the door open and stepped back, just as they approached. The mom looked up, turned and caught my eye, and with a sincere look of gratitude simply said, “Thank You.” They then moved on to the shopping cart area where they did that proverbial parent/child dance of getting their young ones situated and strapped in a cart. They were then off into the store, wheels wobbling as they disappeared behind aisle five.
Just two nights ago, having had our fill of turkey leftovers, my wife mentioned that I go down to the local Mexican food place and get some tacos for dinner. So, I grabbed my thirteen year old daughter and off we went. It’s not far, so there was some light conversation about school, her latest babysitting job and whether we would do drive-thru or walk-in to order.
I’m not a big fan of the drive thru. In my entire life, I have yet to receive an order through the drive thru that is correct! (OK, maybe just half my life!) Then, you’re left with that nagging decision of turning around and going back or just accepting the fact that you get screwed at the drive thru!
So, we placed our order at the counter and moved a few steps back to wait. My daughter was checking her phone and I’m simply watching the process of filling orders and cooking food that is taking place behind the counter. The woman who placed her order prior to us was standing to our right, with a young girl about six years old. Her daughter had some crayons and was coloring a child’s place-mat featuring cartoon characters.
The teen behind the counter called this woman’s number and she stepped forward. As she approached, her order required about five different small bags to fit her order. She started to struggle gathering all of the bags together in a way that would allow her to carry them outside to her car. I tapped my daughter on the shoulder and whispered, “Why don’t you help that lady carry her food out to her car?” Without hesitation, my daughter bounced up to the counter and offered to help. The lady hesitated for just a moment, but my daughter insisted. They then split up the bags and out the door they went. My daughter returned just a few minutes later wearing a big grin.
As we returned home, my daughter ran into the kitchen declaring, “Mom! I helped a lady! She had a little girl and I helped carry their food to their car!”
These two experiences have been on my mind lately. I’m not sure why. But it is apparent to me as I get older, that the “Christmas Spirit” and a Holiday attitude of kindness really are about the small things. It’s about the subtle acts of kindness. Its opening the door for young parents and helping a lady carry her food to the car. It’s about offering a smile as you pass on the sidewalk and patience as you pass in a traffic lane.
Let’s do our best this Holiday Season to reach out to others with Kindness. I'm interested in any random acts of kindness you have been involved in; either as a giver or receiver. When we share, it becomes contagious...in a good way!