I’d love to tell you about my family traditions—egg nog, fruit cake, Advent calendars, Christmas music starting somewhere in mid-November (I know), but I’d bore you to tears. So, let’s chat about something else. Echoing what Deb Eleanor wrote about wanting for nothing, I’m in the same boat. If I sat down to write a Christmas list, I’d stare at a blank page for hours! (OK, Jason, if you’re reading this–that doesn’t mean you should take back the little package from Tiffany’s!) But, really and truly, I can’t think of a single thing that I need, or even really want, from Santa these days (expect for maybe Rudolph to buy 50,000 copies of my novel the day it debuts!). But what I do love is giving, and I’ve found a pretty darn fun way to do that, and spread some holiday cheer … to strangers.
I’ll let you in on my secret: When I’m out driving around Seattle, I’ll pop into the drive-through lane of one of the 400 gazillion Starbucks’ in town and buy the coffee drink and scone (or muffin or whatever) for the person behind me (without them knowing that I’m doing this, of course). Clearly, this is a minuscule thing—tiny in comparison to things that really make a difference—but I’ve come to believe that the little things count too, that a little unexpected generosity from a stranger during a hectic time of the year can boost happiness.
Take the woman in the drive-through line behind me this morning: I watched in my rear-view mirror as her minivan pulled up. She looked tired. Frazzled. Maybe she just dropped her kids off at school. Maybe she was in a fight with her husband. Maybe she was feeling depleted. Who knows. But she was scowling, and when I rolled my window down to eavesdrop, I heard her shouting her order into the speaker. So I paid for her venti vanilla latte and scone, and then drove off, slow enough to see her frown turn to a huge smile the second she reached the window, where she learned of her little treat. I got tears in my eyes this morning when I saw that, which is probably due to these raging pregnancy hormones, but anyway—it felt good! And I hope it made her feel good, too!
I love how giving and doing things for others has a way of boosting our own happiness, too. I dare you to try my Starbucks trick—or make up your own secret Santa tradition. It’ so fun. Even my kids get into it!
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