“Maybe Christmas he thought, doesn’t have to come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more….. so said Dr Seuss.
To me, Christmas is about memories of family, of pillowcases full of presents, of Dad cooking the turkey but Mum being the one in the kitchen heat flushed and frazzled. It’s sneaking chocolates from the Christmas tree, the round, gold wrapped, penny toffee’s left in the tin of Quality Street, leaving carrots for Rudolph and sherry and a mince pie for the man in the red suit.
It’s nativity plays, over excited kids, family traditions, walks on Boxing Day, The Sound of Music, A Wonderful Life and The Great Escape.
It is sparkly!
You can’t buy it and you can’t wrap it up.
As the festive season approaches our thoughts are of those who won’t be spending it with us. It may be we have lost someone close to us, family members may be estranged or living on a different continent.
Whatever the reason it hurts and it can be difficult to find a positive or a reason to be happy.
Research suggests that there is no happiness like the happiness that comes from doing something good for someone without expecting anything in return. For as long as psychologists have been studying human behaviour there has been scepticism about the idea that we are capable of really doing something without expecting any personal benefit in return.
Dr Michael Babula, in his book, Motivation, Altruism, Personality and Social Psychology, (not the catchiest title to have on your book shelf) challenges these negative ideas.
He claims that those that live for others actually lead incredibly successful lives, show lower rates of depression and stress and have an increase of positive feelings towards themselves.
Kindness to others should never be a currency. It should be “out of the goodness of one’s heart” and should be used as a means to inspire others to act similarly. Your act of kindness begins a ripple effect of kindness extending far beyond your social circle, out into the universe. What you give comes back in abundance and warms your very soul. To put it simply, Pay it Forward.
Do you know someone who will be alone on Christmas Day? Set an extra place at your table and share your day with them.
A single mum and her children with no screwdriver to build that longed for scooter, offer to help.
An elderly neighbour who wants to visit the grave of the only man she has ever loved, could you take her?
Your simple act of kindness can bring so much happiness.
You can make a reverse Advent Calendar. Add an item of non-perishable food to a box each day and on Christmas Eve donate it to your local homeless centre or foodbank.
Donate your time, volunteer at a charity shop, have a look on www.volunteeringmatters.org.uk for local projects.
Have a “dry” January and donate the money you save on your favourite tipple to your favourite charity.
Many coffee shops run a “suspended coffee” scheme were you buy a coffee for someone who can’t afford to pay for their own. Imagine, how lovely that must be for someone who finds themselves on the streets knowing they can get a hot drink.
It was Ronald Reagan who said:
“We can’t help everyone but everyone can help someone”
I think this is truly a “Christmas message” for every day of the year.