Like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly, I’m slowly noticing these variations in my personality and the way in which I interact with the world at large. I’m changing, and I have only my children to blame.
I find myself wondering who is this person that I see in the mirror? Who is this guy that stopped what he was doing today and talked with two different strangers during holiday shopping madness? Who is this guy that was whistling Christmas tunes on his way back to the car after breaking the bank at the grocery store? I’m not sure that I am familiar with this guy who is now smiling and waving other cars ahead of him on the roads; a scene typically dominated by the middle finger and honking horns.
What I am finding out is that “this guy,” lately, finds himself enjoying the giving aspect of Christmas more than the receiving. With that in mind, I give you my “Top Seven Givings of Christmas.”
The gift of conversation – A few weeks ago I wrote about getting back to basics with regards to family and keeping things simple with regard to life, and part of that pledge was to slow things down and get to know the names of more people in my community. Well Chris, I’ve been coming into your store for years now, and I’m glad to finally know your name. (Name and type of store withheld for now to preserve Christmas gift surprise.) Also, as mentioned above, I actually engaged in conversation with two strangers today while buzzing around trying to finalize my lists. I didn’t just nod my head and give one word answers, I actually paused what I was doing and fully engaged with two separate strangers. I’m not sure what the quantitative result of this is, but it made me feel good enough to write about, so there is that.
Give me a break – My wife is giving me a break right now to write this article. Don’t underestimate these small gestures during the crazy holidays. Give your loved ones some time to themselves to do with as they wish. There is a good chance your wife might simply sneak away to wrap gifts in peace while you watch the kids, but trust me, it will be appreciated just as I appreciate this time right now.
Give your time – I have to get better at volunteering my time for those less fortunate, and since I’m not exactly knocking this practice out of the park right now, instead of preaching to my readers, I’m going to pledge to do more of this myself and then preach to you. Fair?
Give thanks – This is an easy one. I know I like hearing the words, “Thank you,” so I have to imagine others do as well.
Give your brother some breathing room – Listen kid, your brother is only 1. He might act like a freight train, scream like a fire truck, and treat toys like the Cookie Monster does cookies, but he is fragile and for the most part has no idea what he is doing. I suggest you stop ripping things out of his hands and/or knocking him over when you play, because I’m pretty sure that before long, he is going to be bigger than you and the roles will be reversed.
The gift of giving – Nothing has warmed my heart more this holiday season than the stories about “Layaway Angels.” Complete strangers giving to other strangers for no reason other than to give. To bring this full circle, one of the ladies I had a conversation with today, a grandmother, initiated our talk by giving me a “$10 Off Entire Purchase” coupon typically reserved only for members of this store. I was literally on Cloud 9 after this exchange. This whole “random acts of kindness” thing is infectious, and I can’t wait to do the same for someone else in the near future. Pass it on.
Give me a replacement for Santa – I’ve really come to depend on using the Santa Claus threat lately. “Santa is watching buddy, you better start listening,” or, “I wonder if Santa still has room on his naughty list for one more boy.” This stuff is working like a charm right now, and I really don’t know what I’m doing to do without it. Will the Easter Bunny carry as much cache? I think not.
Give to Brad the Dad – In my professional life, I work on commission. Oftentimes I find the most straight forward approach to closing a deal is to simply ask for it. So, with that in mind, I’m asking for a little love from my readers. Follow me on Twitter, like me on Facebook, or simply email one of your favorite articles to a friend.
Trust me, I don’t bite. Five years ago, maybe, but these days I’m just a dad who enjoys talking to random grandmothers while grocery shopping.
This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 12/24/11.