Monday, December 17

Christmas in July

Nancy Holte, speaker and writer, loves to encourage women to grab hold of God's amazing plan for their lives! She is a woman who loves to laugh and can bring humor into almost any situation. She is a courageous woman, storyteller, wife, mother and grandmother...and best of all, we get to call her friend! She has graciously agreed to be a guest blogger for The Ruth Experience. Read and enjoy!

When I first read The Ruth Experience blog about Advent Acts of Kindness, I knew I wanted in. I called a little meeting with my husband (Ok, let’s be honest, I started talking to him in the car where, quite frankly, he pretty much can’t get away) and we discussed the possibilities. We also discussed the funding because, let’s face it, even making cookies has a certain cost to it. And then, we plunged into the projects. Well, I plunged in . . . my husband got sick. And since our kids are grown and married, I was pretty much on my own.


My problem is I tend to be a bit of an overachiever. I don’t always overachieve, mind you, I just wear out trying. And thus, I find myself, with an entire week until Christmas, a bit tattered around the edges. What I’d LIKE to do seems as though it would take me down one path and what I have the capacity for leads down another path altogether. And so it’s time to reassess the situation and figure out what I CAN do.

I’m not giving up this idea, mind you. I still have plenty of things in the works that aren’t as time-consuming as, say, making dessert for the entire volunteer fire department. But it has occurred to me that there are many Advent Acts of Kindness that can not only be done with little or no time invested, but also accomplished free of charge. Here are just a few:

Smile – There are exhausted, frantic people all around endlessly searching for the “perfect gift.” They don’t feel like smiling, but they sure could use one to brighten their day. Trust me, it’ll make a difference.

Allow the driver in front of you to “budge” in line – It seems everyone is in a hurry and this is never more evident than when there is a backup of traffic. There is always one person who didn’t seem to get the memo about how to merge gracefully (which is a subject for a whole other blog) but why not be the one that shows that driver mercy and allows him/her to squeeze into the line ahead of you?

Open the door – Take an extra few seconds and hold the door open for someone. If their hands are filled with packages, they will especially appreciate it, but even if their hands are empty you might be surprised at how grateful they are.

Checkout  line kindness – There are a couple of things that you can do in the checkout line to brighten someone’s day. You can help unload someone’s cart onto the conveyer belt. You might want to say something like “let me help you unload these” before you just dig in, of course. You can also talk to the kids in the carts . . . in a friendly, “I’m not a creeper,” kind of way. Ask them if they are in school, what they did today, are they excited about Christmas? Their mom will appreciate the “break” for a couple of minutes as she pays for her items and most kids will be happy to tell you all about the fact that grandma and grandpa are coming soon – except those who are painfully shy. Just tell them a sweet story that lets them know they are loved.

These are just a few ideas of easy, quick and free things you can do to brighten someone’s day in the next week. But there is one very important idea that I don’t want to leave out -- you don’t have to stop on December 25.

When our kids were little, they loved the Sesame Street Christmas Special. (Ok, I confess, I liked it, too.) I doubt it still airs but it is available on YouTube (don’t ask how I know) and it’s a great one. There was a song on that show that went like this:

Keep Christmas with you 
All through the year, 
When Christmas is over, 
Save some Christmas cheer. 
These precious moments, 
Hold them very dear 
And keep Christmas with you 
All through the year.

You see, the week AFTER Christmas, there will still be hurting people in the world. There will still be discouraged people or people who just might need a little extra help. If you really, really wanted to give cookies to the garbage men, but didn’t get them made, I’m fairly certain they wouldn’t turn them down in January. Maybe you have a neighbor who could use some help taking DOWN the Christmas decorations (if not, message me and I’ll send you my address.)

The point is that we can keep Christmas going all year because Jesus didn’t just come for a moment, He came for a lifetime. Consider planning something each month that will keep the spirit of Advent Acts of Kindness alive; make a plan, put it on your calendar, and do it! It will make a difference in someone’s life . . . maybe even your own.

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