Snow. I expected it, but not quite so much. I had errands – and only one day to get them done – but my car was covered with the white stuff. Not just a dusting, either. And my brush-a-majig to sweep and scrape it off? Missing in action.
I thought maybe it was in the car. My snow boots? Nowhere to be found… though I wore them 11 months ago. My mood? Pouty. I needed to get out!
I was frustrated. I made more coffee. I settled in with a bit of work. Then, a knock at my door. A neighbor — not someone I know very well — but there he was.
“Do you need anything?” he asked. “I’m going out, and the roads are still a little snowy.”
“That’s very nice of you, thank you,” I said. “But I have to go out a little later anyway.“
“Well then, can I clean off your car for you?“
“Oh you don’t have to do that,“ I said.
“It’s no trouble,“ he said. “It will only be a few minutes.“
Sure enough, 10 minutes later my car was completely cleared of heavy snow, and I was buoyed by the knowledge that I could get right to my long list of must-do errands — no muss, no fuss.
It is amazing how that one small kindness changed the course of my day. So, despite heading out in sneakers instead of boots, I bundled up in coat, scarf, and colorful gloves, and off I went!
Now, I have been so busy with so many little things lately that I haven’t gotten to any of my holiday decorating, not that I do that much, but… I have a few traditions that I enjoy. On my errand list? Some of those items. Thus, my dismay at not being able to get out. I needed some holiday spirit around this place!
My neighbor’s kindness, out of the blue? I was delighted.
One small kindness can truly make a difference. It can completely change a day for a person, as it did for me. And after a long week, my neighbor’s thoughtfulness went beyond that single act, setting off a string of bright moments as I carried my renovated mood with me, spread it around, and smiled my way tbrough a Sunday afternoon of crucial errands.
So I guess the moral of the story, as the saying goes, is that five or 10 minutes of your time can literally change the direction of a person’s day — and more.
Naturally, paying it forward is part of the story, too. After all, giving feels good. And opportunities for kindness are everywhere. It’s often incredibly easy to put a little “good stuff” out into the universe.
Maybe you let someone get in front of you in the checkout line when they only have a few items. Better still, when they look harried, you’re not in a hurry, and they have plenty of items.
Another act of kindness? Getting in your car or picking up the phone to touch base with someone you know is lonely — an aging parent or a hurting friend.
Maybe you let a car cut in line in traffic, you open the door for someone who is struggling with packages or a child, you smile at the overworked cashier or clerk in a retail store. (Smiling is good for our health, remember?)
Sometimes kindness is about listening. Listening to someone who needs — and deserves — the respect and dignity of being heard. Sometimes, kindness is about telling someone’s story — when they have no way to tell it themselves. And our stories can (and should) remind us of our common humanity… and spur us to help, if we possibly can.
No more so than this time of year.
One small kindness. It’s free, and the difference it can make in a mood, a day, or a life is enormous.
Now if only someone would kindly remind me where I tucked my snow boots. Yes, these, that you see in this pic from a few years back!
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