I have always loved Christmas, but the past few years I haven’t been able to fully enjoy it. Being in grad school meant that those precious weeks before Christmas were spent frantically researching and writing papers, scheduling flights home, studying for finals, working on projects etc. It left very little time for baking, listening to Christmas music, spending time with loved ones and all the stuff that makes this time of the year so cozy and fun.
This year I wanted to make the most of my post-grad school free time by making Getting Into The Christmas Spirit a major priority. Jeff and I broke out our Nutcracker cds at Thanksgiving and I started switching to the Christmas music channel anytime I got the chance. I listened to the Peanuts Christmas album and baked cookies. We even splurged and went to see the Nutcracker performed at the Boston Opera House.
And sure, these things were wonderful and Christmasy and lovely. But I’ve found that what’s really put me in the Christmas spirit has nothing to do with my efforts, but rather the small acts of kindness that people have shown me this month.
I had two graham cracker house decorating programs at the library this month. I’d never done anything like this before and had no idea what I was doing. And then randomly one day, a fellow staff member introduced me to a patron who makes super fancy gingerbread houses for competitions and displays. The next day, this woman emailed me a list with a TON of helpful tips, her husband dropped off a load of candy for the teens to use to decorate their houses, and she even invited me to her house one afternoon to teach me how to make royal icing. Seriously! My programs turned out a million times better than they would have without her help. I ended up having 21 teens participate and they all had a blast. And this woman gave me all this help of her own accord. I tend to be a pretty cynical and negative person, but her generosity helped me remember that there are kind people out there who choose to help others out of the goodness of their hearts.
My spirits were bolstered again this past weekend. Jeff and I came home late Friday night and I realized I had a flat tire. Neither of us had ever changed a flat before. The next morning, good researchers that we are, we looked up YouTube videos, I reread Sarah’s super helpful guide and said a silent prayer that we wouldn’t break my car with our amateur efforts. We went outside to search for something to use as a wedge for the other tire, when I spotted a man across the parking lot fixing his own flat tire. I went over to ask if we could borrow his wedge, and he came over and helped put the spare on for me! He didn’t want anything in return. He was just happy to help!
In addition to these random acts of kindness, I’ve had several parents thank me for the programs I put on for teens and tweens. My Teen Advisory Board girls have also been so sweet, helping me set up and clean up after this month’s particularly messy programs, and even bringing me a hot chocolate treat from Starbucks the other day.
When terrible things happen (like the awful awful tragedy in Connecticut) it’s easy to lose faith in humanity. These small acts of kindness have helped remind me that generosity and goodwill truly do exist, and have helped put me in the Christmas spirit better than all the carols and presents and films have.