Today I’d like to share an article I wrote for the holidays. We’ll use it to launch our Christmas discussion and giveaway today. You’ll find info about both after the article!

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness

by Jill Savage

Late one Fall, my son and I pulled into my friend’s driveway and immediately noticed how tall her grass was. When I inquired about it she said the business she had hired throughout the summer had been undependable. When she tried to find someone else to mow her lawn at the end of mowing season she had no luck. Living in a condo unit with a yard the size of a postage stamp, it would have taken no longer than 15 minutes to do the job. I looked up and down the row of condos at the nicely manicured yards and noticed more than a dozen push mowers in the same number of garages. Why didn’t someone notice the condition of the yard and care enough to ask if they could mow it for her?

Every Sunday night our family gathers to watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. This show pulls together a community to help a family in need. Friends, neighbors, and complete strangers band together to give their time and money to build a deserving family a new home. They rally around a need and give generously.

When a show like Extreme Makeover comes into town they make a need known. In essence they “market” the need and sell the community on the value of pulling together and meeting the need. Our society is so fast paced and me-centered that the only way we really see the needs around us is to have someone put it right in our face: Salvation Army bell ringers at every store entrance, Toys for Tots toy drives, Operation Christmas Child, and Angel Tree. These are valid efforts to bring the needs of others to our attention but what keeps us from seeing those needs on a regular basis? Does it have to be the Christmas season for us to have a generous heart?
With the holidays upon us, now is the time to pay attention to the needs around us. But we need not stop on December 25. We need to use this season as a starting point for the rest of the year.

It’s an opportunity to remove the blinders that keep us from seeing the needs of others and to keep them off permanently. Years ago the movie “Pay It Forward” heralded the value of practicing random acts of kindness. It was a call to action to practice an act of kindness with the recipient then passing on another act of kindness to someone else.

Acts of kindness build generosity in us. They also move our eyes from ourselves and our own problems to others and their needs. During this season let’s build generosity in our hearts and minds by looking for ways we can touch the lives of our friends, neighbors, and maybe even complete strangers. Think about these possibilities:

· Invite someone who might otherwise be alone to share a holiday activity with you and your family.

· Rather than grumbling about the neighbor’s snow covered section of the sidewalk, simply grab a shovel and clear it yourself.

· When you leave a restaurant carrying out half of the meal you didn’t eat, ask for a set of plastic silverware to tuck in the box. Then take a drive to a section of town where you might find a homeless person to give the food to.

· Take a meal to a new mom or a friend who had surgery.

· Offer to shop for an elderly neighbor who might have trouble getting out.

· Invite a single mom and her kids over for a meal.

· Tuck a restaurant gift certificate in a card for a friend or someone you know who’s going through a hard time. Sign it from “Someone who cares.”

· Pick up the restaurant tab for a person dining alone.

When we give to others, it does something inside of us. There’s a sense of satisfaction when we touch another life in a simple, yet significant way. There’s contentment when we move from being self-centered to others-centered.

When my son, Kolya, and I saw my friend’s yard, we knew we had to do something. We located a push mower from another friend not too far away and Kolya began to mow. It was more like mowing a field of hay than a lawn, taking twice the amount of time and effort it normally would have. By the time he finished, Kolya had learned two important lessons: jobs are more easily accomplished when they are maintained regularly and there is great satisfaction that comes from helping someone.

Let’s use this season as the start of a new journey to see the needs around us. Let’s change selfishness to selflessness. Let’s practice random acts of kindness 365 days a year. If we take this challenge seriously, we’ll be different people next Christmas than we are this Christmas. We’ll have a kinder, gentler, and far more generous heart. And that is the essence of the Christmas spirit.

Have you ever been the recipient of someone else’s random act of kindness? Have you been prompted to bless someone in a special way? You can enter today’s giveaway by sharing how you’ve been blessed or how you’ve had the opportunity to bless someone else. Make sure and include your email in your comment!

If you choose to additionally enter the giveaway by blogging, twittering, subscribing, or getting a friend to subscribe, send an email to jillsavagegiveaway (at) yahoo.com stating how you shared today’s discussion and/or giveaway today!

Today’s giveaway is the Hearts at Home Perpetual Calendar. This resource brings daily encouragement that inspires you to keep the perspective you desperately need!

I’m looking forward to hearing your “random act of kindness” story!

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