What do you want for the holidays? For most of us, I’ll bet the No. 1 answer is to spend quality time with our family and friends away from the workaday commitments. I’ll add something I think most would hope for as well—to be thought of. The year-end holidays that we celebrate in various forms around the world are a natural time to stop and value people who are important to us. Too often, we make shopping for gifts a chore as we rush from store to store (or stay up late trying to negotiate a last-minute online delivery), ticking names off a list that has been weighing on us since Thanksgiving.
' But let’s not lose the point of gift-giving. Each present is an affirmation between you and another person.' - STEPHEN ORR
It doesn’t have to be expensive or mindblowing. People mostly want to be noticed, considered, and valued. To know, “I am thinking of you. Here’s something you might enjoy.” Naturally, we do this for close family, friends, and coworkers. But how can we let other people know we appreciate them? I think in many cases the more random the association the better.
' Even small gestures toward strangers can make a difference in the mood of both the recipient and the giver.' - STEPHEN ORR
As I’ve aged, I’ve found myself becoming more like my late father. One of his habits, which used to annoy and embarrass his teenage children to no end, was how he always cheerfully talked to strangers: the guard at the museum, a waiter, a flight attendant, fellow diners, or anyone in any sort of line. I find myself now doing it to such a degree that when my husband sees me eyeing a potential victim in public, he tugs my arm and says, “Hold up, Pop Pop.” He’s right. Obviously not everyone wants to engage in conversation, but I find more often than not people are happy to share a smile or a laugh over a common experience. I’ve learned a lot and met many nice people following in my father’s footsteps, so no amount of arm-tugging will stop me from continuing his tradition.