As Christmas songs go on full blast and bright lights warm the streets, you wonder if for the nth time, you’re finally done with all of your holiday shopping.
It’s one of the most brutal periods of the year. Several bazaars and mall sales to check out, never-ending Christmas lists that have burned both your wallet and sanity, with the almost-impossible traffic situation and the coiled lines at cashier stations.
You look at the bags scattered in the seat next to you. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen, you count, when a sound interrupts your thoughts. You look up and see a little girl of maybe 8 years old. She has long hair, a big grin, and a homemade tambourine made from bits of wire and bottle caps. You notice that there are holes on her faded pink shirt but she doesn’t seem to mind as she sings a Christmas song outside your window.
Normally you’d pretend to look at your phone or knock against the window, a signal for her to move on to the next car. But this particular time, you can’t look away.
The holiday season usually brings about the spirit of giving in more ways than one. It’s about the giving of time, the giving of extra effort. When you know that a gift bought from a store would be an easier option, yet you go out of your way to make something for your family. So you spend hours and days perfecting the dishes for a five course dinner. You’re practically glued to the Food Network channel and have been looking at plenty of articles online just to get the flavors right. You create the mood at home with the table setting along with the fairy lights and candles laid out in the dining area. You bring out your mom’s best plates and glasses, the ones she reserves only for special occasions, and you pop open a bottle of champagne. Especially since you know mom and dad deserve nothing less.
The holiday season calls for a sense of giving. Giving not only because it is expected of you, but because there is an innate want to be generous. Unfortunately, more often than not, the call to give is muted by the stresses of Christmas and the receiving of material items. At times, we’re too preoccupied with exchange gifts and Christmas dinners with people in our circle.
But what if this Christmas were different? What if you could make someone outside of your circle smile? What if aside from or instead of just giving your household help the usual lotion and cologne set, you choose to show them how much you appreciate their hard work by treating them to a spa day or spending quality time sharing stories over a shared meal? It’ll be a small act of gratitude for one whole year of cooking, cleaning, and taking care of you, their favorite alaga.
And what if instead of turning a blind eye from the many children carolers in the streets, you give them food that could serve as one meal for a day (or two or three) What if you gave her a chance to forget poverty, even if only for a fleeting moment?
The thing about the holidays is that it calls upon each and every one of us to give. To give more than to receive and to give beyond more than just a few coins and material gifts. Pay it forward. Know that one act of kindness can create a ripple effect that means more than what you think, and you can be that someone that makes someone else’s holiday a happy one.