“Kindness is a gift everyone can afford to give.”
Small acts of kindness ripple out from us and have lovely, unknown consequences in situations we could never imagine. Kindness impacts people in profound ways, and helping others increases personal energy, decreases stress and improves feelings of self-worth… in short, kindness matters!
There are so many opportunities in our everyday lives to show kindness, yet the festive season is an ideal time to refresh your kindness repertoire and practice your random acts of kindness. At this time, it is especially important as it can be a challenging time for many.
The idea was summed up beautifully by Vice Principal Íde Ní Mhuirí, who’s Irish Primary school in County Cork, has decided to do away with all homework for the entire month of December, replacing it instead with ‘acts of kindness’.
“We are encouraging our pupils to think of the real spirit of Christmas, the spirit of kindness and giving. Unfortunately, not everyone is in a position to be able to enjoy Christmas; some are lonely, some are sad, some might yearn for what they do not have and some might simply not enjoy the festivities. Yet there is nobody in this world who wouldn’t benefit from an act of kindness, and the joy of kindness is that it costs nothing.”
Below, some of the Langley Group team share personal examples of acts of kindness that they perform during the festive season, or that others have done for them.
What could you do to spread some kindness? Remember, it is the little things you do that make the most significant difference, as the below video shows!! (Turn your sound up, and watch until the end!)
I always feel mixed emotions around the Christmas holidays. I love that it brings people together and creates a community. I am also very mindful that it is a challenging time for many and can be very lonely. I have donated and volunteered with various charities in the past, yet recently I was reminded that acts of kindness can also come in simple acts of connection and gratitude.
I was racing to get to a breakfast event, and a busker was playing the most beautiful music. I could feel his heart through every note, and you could see the joy he was creating for everyone passing. I couldn’t find any coins and was hoping to see him on the way back. On my way back he had just packed up and realising I still didn’t have any money to give him, I thought that, if anything, I needed him to know how grateful I was for his beautiful music and how it had truly brightened my day. When I shared this with him, he was beaming, and I was beaming, and we both felt joy through this simple connection and moment of gratitude.
So much effort often goes into finding the right present, planning the perfect dinner, etc. It is easy to forget what a gift it can be to show gratitude, to share a connection, and to show others that we see them, we hear them, and we appreciate them.
During training days at my previous organisation, we supplied brown paper bags for the Hutt Street Centre in Adelaide. This allowed participants to ‘pay their lunch forward’, and shout a meal for someone doing it tough, to the value of the lunch provided for them. The bags are branded and have all the details needed to make a donation and to receive a tax-deductible receipt. This idea works so well in the festive season when companies are providing meals at festive celebrations!
Each year Hutt St Centre serves 50,000+ meals for people experiencing homelessness. They provide daily breakfast and lunch, or a packed meal for people who are homeless and working.
I enjoy a low-key, inclusive, and fun kind of Christmas, so three out of every four years (the fourth I spend with family in Melbourne) I make a point of offering an “Orphan’s Christmas”.
I will offer an invitation to others, and the part I love the most is that people who are not planning a Christmas per se will ‘pop-in’ at some point in the day and can engage for as long as they like in a relaxed way. People will also frequently ask if they could bring another person who they know is not spending the day with others, so it grows, and every year is different and exciting.
For myself and my husband, this is the gift of love, and we receive more than we could ever give. It engages our curiosity and fun, so if you’ve never tried it, I invite you to become a ‘connector’ and reach out to others this Christmas through your networks.
Instead of buying presents for people, I bake traditional German cookies, wrap them in festive packaging, and give them to family and friends.
I also bake for the animal shelter Monika’s doggie rescue (dog cookies), so the little doggies have a yummy Christmas treat!
It was wonderful to come into work the other day and find Ira’s festive cookies on my desk! A lovely gesture that started my week beautifully, especially when you know that time, effort and thought went into them. And they are delicious!
My family are based abroad, and we can’t always be together over the festive break, so I am one of Leanne’s aforementioned ‘Christmas orphans’. Several people have made me welcome at their Christmas festivities, and their kindness and generosity always means the world to me, at a time that would otherwise be quite upsetting and lonely for me.
During the festive season, I like to take the opportunity to thank loved ones and colleagues for all they have done for me over the year. I am also a big fan of handmade or handwritten personalised gifts!
There are a few things that we do as a family at this time of year, to spread kindness:
- I am working with my children to create a box of gratitude gems and stories for their teachers – we do this every year.
- We contribute to food drives in our community helping to give food to those who need it
- We contribute to food for animals also – a charity that rescues and rehomes little animals. (My daughter Lola would love to house them all at our place, yet we haven’t quite managed this yet!)
- When it comes to giving gifts to, we try to include items we have made, and have spent time, energy and thought creating.
- Lola sings in the choir at the supermarket Christmas day and the retirement home down the road.
An act of kindness that I have started to perform recently is meeting our postman downstairs when he comes to collect the post. He had previously mentioned to me that his knees were not very good, and so I have decided to take the post down to him rather than having him walk up two flights of stairs.
In terms of an act of kindness that I have received, our office is full of such amazing people, and when times are busy (as they often are at this time of year), my team members offer to assist with my workload. It means a lot.
There are a few charitable schemes that I know of that people can get involved with at this time of year.
- Operation Christmas Child (Samaritan’s Purse) – people can make donations or volunteer in their processing centres preparing shoeboxes for shipping to impoverished kids in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, PNG, Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa.
- Kilo of Christmas (Hillsong) – People can make donations (there is an online shop for items to give) towards gifts for families and those in need at this time of year, or volunteers can attend a packing day and help to wrap Christmas gifts.
I don’t do anything specific for Christmas as such, as I like to spread kindness throughout the year. Yet last year and this year, instead of buying gifts for family and friends, I bought gifts for others more in need via here. It’s a fabulous store!
During the festive period, my act of kindness is to take blankets, toys and food to dog shelters. After Christmas, there is always a surge in the number of animals dropped at shelters, mostly from people who have received a dog as a surprise gift, and who are unable to look after it. So my donations help provide for these animals in the new year.
I don’t have kind things I do explicitly for the festive season that would be much different to other times of the year. I love doing little things that people don’t know about, such as picking up litter, and leaving notes, and sending cards. I love a handwritten card or personalised message. The festive season for me in recent years has meant going away and relaxing. I have to say the kindness of homemade cookies, from the Cookie Man on Likuliku at 3 pm is pretty extraordinary.
Kindness is doing what you love and making a difference – we can all make a difference in the world, and as we can see from the ideas above, it is the small things that make the most significant difference. At the Langley Group, we are trying to change the world one small ripple at a time! Thank you all for being a part of it!
From everyone at Langley Group, we wish you, your family and friends a happy, safe festive season, filled with many acts of kindness.
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