The true meaning of the holiday season is selflessness.

Written by Chris Cutler

When I was a child, my father became critically ill one summer, and he never worked again. That holiday season, friends, family, and volunteers from our church took us under their wings. Those wonderful people didn’t give us riches or expensive gifts, but they made sure we could celebrate in as normal a way as possible. I’ve never forgotten their kindness, and I’ve tried to “pay it forward” whenever I can.

You might not have time to volunteer, and you might not have a lot of money to donate, but there are a lot of other things you can do to bring cheer into someone else’s life. Here are just a couple.

  1. Visit a nursing home. The elderly are often forgotten, and stopping by to sing carols or drop off cookies or cards might be just the thing to brighten someone’s day.
  2. Bake cookies or casseroles. We know someone who bakes dozens of cookies every year and delivers them to her neighbors. Go one step further and put cookies in bags  to hand out to homeless people.
  3. Make holiday cards for hospitalized kids. Spread a little joy among kids who are suffering from chronic or acute illnesses this year. A handmade card will bring a smile to a little one’s face.
  4. Send holiday cards to soldiers. The men and women serving our country should know we care about them, and this is an easy way to show it.
  5. Phone a friend. We all have people in our lives with whom we’ve lost contact. The holidays are a good time to let them know we still care, and a phone call to catch up is just the thing.
  6. Pay it Forward. Running through the Starbucks or Coffee Bean, McDonald’s or Wendy’s drive-through on your way to work? Pay for the order for the person in the car behind you in line. It’s a small gesture that will go a long way in making someone’s day. Who knows? You might even start a trend.
  7. DONATE those items that are collecting dust. Most Americans are rich in clothes, and the holidays are a good time to go through our closets to purge the things we don’t wear any longer. Donate them to a homeless or women’s shelter. You might even keep some warm gloves, socks, old shoes and blankets in the backseat of your car and hand them to the homeless you see on the street.
  8. Remember the pets at your local shelter. There are a lot of abandoned animals out there, and they can use your kindness, too. Volunteer to walk dogs for a few hours. Take old blankets and towels to the shelters. Donate food or treats.
  9. Be a good neighbor. Know someone in your neighborhood who is ill or unable to clean his/her yard, house, car? Volunteer to help him/her with little odd jobs around the house.
  10. Spread random acts of kindness. You never know who might need a little kindness each day. Encourage someone. Plant flowers. Take out the trash. Clean up graffiti and dirty sidewalks. Share inspirational quotes. Say something nice to someone. Clean your room. Forgive someone. Let someone go in front of you. Thank someone. Be kind.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”  ~ Anne Frank