When we give from the heart, we do so out of a joy that springs forth whenever we willingly enrich another person’s life. This kind of giving benefits both the giver and receiver. The receiver enjoys the gift without worrying about the consequences that accompany gifts given out of fear, guilt, shame, or desire for gain.
— Marshall Rosenberg, founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication
I know many of you will be traveling or possibly offline next week, and this next random act of kindness needs to be done Christmas Eve. So I’m going to share it with you today. It is my one of my favorite random acts of kindness for the holiday season, and I wouldn’t want you to miss out. It’s something I’ve been doing for many years, and I hope that you’ll try it.
This will cost between 10 and 30 or so dollars. More, of course, if you want. Start slow if you wish, but I would not be surprised if, in coming years, the amount you decide to spend moves up and up. I know it really has for me!
It’s very simple. Here’s how it began. A number of years ago, by pure coincidence, I was shopping for a cheap shower curtain at one of those dollar stores, in a neighborhood I don’t usually frequent. It just happened to be the afternoon of Christmas Eve.
I couldn’t help but notice who was shopping in the dollar store toy department on Christmas Eve: people who were desperate; people who were scraping together everything they had for that last minute chance to make their children smile. People struggling against overwhelming odds.
Sure, maybe not everyone. But most. Without a doubt.
So, I got a crazy idea. I happened (oh, yes, just another coincidence!) to have a bunch of one dollar bills in my wallet. I surreptitiously pulled them out, and started tucking each one here and there among the toys.
Not so hidden that someone might not find them, but not too obvious, either. I deliberately skipped over the guns and violence-promoting toys. I didn’t stick them inside books, since I felt that the odds would be fairly low for that particular book to be picked up, and the money put to use. And, oh yes, I was also a bit concerned that my sneaky behavior might be interpreted as shoplifting, instead of shop-placing. So I was careful not to act too suspiciously.
After I planted my money, I paid for my shower curtain and left. I do not recommend hanging around to see the results. That would come much too close to stroking the ego. Plus, I believe it’s best at that point to hand the rest of the job over to Mystery.
In fact, I highly recommend the secrecy of it. I have only told two people ever about my annual Christmas Eve errand, until today. But I decided to share it with you, because wouldn’t it be fun if magical mystery miracle money started appearing in lots of places, on a day when moms and dads could sure use it.
Over the years, as I say, my investment has increased, and I include fives and tens when I can. I also have started placing some near the infants’ clothing, the kids’ coats, the shoes, and other necessities. I know that every dollar, even if it is only found much later by a clerk doing inventory, is well spent.
And by the time I walk out the door, I am the wealthiest woman alive.