Here we are on Day 12 of the Advent Adventure. For most everyone I know, it’s a busy time of the year that can very easily cross over into Stress Central if you don’t take care on that front. Seriously, this is the time of the year when you just HAVE to replenish your own bucket so that you can cheerfully help others.
My Reverse Advent Calendar had me doing some simple, yet highly effective, things to help with this today. For instance, give up your place in line (in a store or wave someone through at a traffic stop). I tried this at the grocery store today and I was amazed at the impact! Women (the store mostly had female shoppers when I was there, possibly because we really do keep the home fires burning so much of the time) perked up a little. They protested feebly, but then leapt in from of me and began chattering. We’re just not used to people being nice. That’s a shame, isn’t it? The RAC also wanted me to make a real effort to make eye contact with people and just smile at them. Now, I live in a small Southern town (the “sticks” of SplendorInTheSticks), where this sort of thing isn’t unheard of, but still – it’s interesting to see how many people smile back. No, it isn’t everyone, but it’s probably more than you think. Give it a try!
I did some other types of sharing today, too. My mechanic (really more of a concierge service, truth be told) had a Christmas party today and the price of admission was a gift for needy children in the community. (Figuring correctly that there would be plenty of dolls and other “little kid” toys (including a plushy T-Rex that I sort of coveted), I dropped off a card game aimed at the 12-and-up set instead. Don’t forget about the taller kids!) I dropped off a spare Christmas tree stand at the hospice thrift store (where I’ve purchased many a frame for “River of Cream” paintings), and dropped off the food box with a newly-formed local group who is trying to do a tremendous amount of good in my community.
In other news, I carved out time for some self-care in the midst of grading madness. For instance, I had an acupuncture treatment today (which really seems to have helped my hands, which have been “crampy” for a couple of days – most likely end-of-semester overuse and residual stress) and a local day spa had a customer appreciation party, complete with complimentary brow waxes and chair massages (and sausage balls – really, there was nothing there to not love!) While grocery shopping, I bought a few holiday things for the house, including a fir wreath and some ornaments that I hope to use to trim it after grading a set of exams tomorrow. It’s been a busy day – but it’s been a good one.
Make sure that, in your zeal to help others, that you don’t forget to be kind to yourself as well. What that may look like will vary, of course – maybe you’ll enjoy Christmas music while you cook dinner. Maybe you’ll take a long walk with the dog. Maybe you’ll decorate sugar cookies with the kids and create a joyous mess, along with nigh-priceless memories.
Just make sure to enjoy the day. And then use that energy to help others – the holidays are hard for a lot of folks and you never know what battles others are fighting.