Small Acts of Holiday Kindness

Small Acts of Holiday Kindness

Jeanine Brennan
Dec 19, 2008

Big storms tend to bring out the helpfulness in neighbors. We still remember the December morning a few years ago after a 2-day Nor'Easter, when we woke up to a shovelled out car. It must have taken someone hours to do, especially on our plowed-in Somerville street. Its these small random acts of kindness that make the holiday season special to us. The holidays don't just include our immediate family and friends, they're also about our neighbors and community. At a pot-luck holiday dinner earlier this week we started a lively discussion about recollections of anonymous kind acts during the holidays. Read what fondly stuck in folks minds after the jump.

Small, kind acts aren't about someone seeing you do them. In fact, they can mean more if you are the only one who knows what you did. Here are some things our friends and neighbors remembered from holiday seasons past:

- Our friend Jen remembers when someone left a $50 in the tip jar on Christmas Eve many years ago when she worked at a coffeeshop. The tipper didn't wait for anyone to see them put it in, it was just in the mix when the jar was dumped out at the end of the day.

- Kate remembered one day when she was stressed out and late, and there was a ton of holiday shopping traffic, the smile a gentleman gave her and a friendly wave when he let her merge in to his lane. This after everyone before him had sped up to cut her off. Its a smile she still remembers and it made her day, in fact her whole season.

- We heard a few people talk about cars in front of them on the Mass Pike paying their tolls. They got up to the tollbooth with money ready, and the toll-taker told them that the person before them had paid for them. Our friends all said that they in turn paid for the person after them as well. And to a person, they all remembered the smile, wave and "Merry Christmas" that they got if they caught up to the person who paid for them.

- Several folks mentioned shoveling out their neighbors sidewalks and steps, or having someone do it anonymously for them.

- Ed, our old neighbor said that one year an anonymous someone left a small tin of dog biscuits on his stoop with a ribbon. He has kind of a yappy dog so it made him feel great that someone liked Scrapper too.

- A few people talked about strangers kindly letting them go before them in line at a store when they only had a few items, or giving them extra coins when they were fishing around in their wallet for exact change.

- Someone talked about sending care packages to soldiers in Iran who they had never met.

- One friend recalled using up all of her quarters to put in expired meters on a street that she had gotten several tickets, and that she knew meter maids were particularly vigilant.

We love this photo of a Salvation Army volunteer from flickr photographer Dan Strange

One theme of the discussion was that when folks talked about the memorable things that had happened to them in years past, it wasn't always what someone did that made it memorable, it was the kind smile on the person's face who did it. AT readers, what about you? Can you think of random small acts of kindness that you've been recipient of or that you did that made the holidays more special?

Here's to the little things this holiday season. We wish you the kindest holiday spirit.

pics: 1: Sue Richards' flickr photostream, 2: tinfoilraccoon's flickr photostream, 3: Dan Strange's flickr photostream

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