When I was growing up one of my favorite holiday memories was when my family and I would take out less fortunate single mothers and their kids for a day of shopping in NYC, McDonalds and dinner at some place like TGI Fridays. It was amazing to see how what seemed to me like so little could make others so happy.
When I grew up and went away to college I missed this family tradition and one Thanksgiving I called a soup kitchen to volunteer. Rather bitterly I was told, “We’re full, where are you the rest of the year?”
Since moving back to NYC, again calling soup kitchens around the holidays and again being told they have enough volunteers on Christmas, my friends and I started a new tradition of gathering extra blankets and coats, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, buying McDonalds and the inexpensive hats and mittens for sale on the sidewalks and walking around giving them out on the streets of New York. It’s selfishly rewarding seeing smiles on individual faces when they unwrap a homemade sandwich or watching a woman walk away grateful for a coat that had been buried unworn in my closet for several seasons.
This year I’d marked my calendar and bought the ingredients for PB&J’s…but then got too caught up searching for a dress to wear as I gallivant around Las Vegas New Year’s Eve to follow through. I started feeling guilty, but then remembered what so many people at soup kitchens have told me before – people aren’t only cold and hungry on Christmas. So, when everyone returns to their regular routines and the gift of giving slips to the back burner, I’m going to buy more bread and do my annual gift-giving whirl around the streets of New York in January this year. If you’re still looking for a New Year’s resolution, it takes so little to make someone smile and selfishly rewarding or not, everybody wins from random acts of kindness 😉 xo