Other than the overindulgence of eating and football, the idea of thanksgiving is to, well, give thanks. I feel like this always gets lost in the pre-Black Friday insanity, and who doesn’t enjoy that every now and again? But lost in that torrent and frenzy is the entire meaning of the holidays, all of them, being thankful and being gracious.
I’ve long wanted to do a blog about this, so I hope this seems timely. This is also a dangerous post, because any post about generosity is always going to be marred by one of the seven deadly sins, pride. Because it is boastful of me (prideful) to talk about being generous as if I do it more than anyone else or better than others, which of course isn’t true at all. This time of the year, we’re all bombarded with adverts and media telling us we need the next big thing, be it a 3DS, a new phone or a new thing-a-ma-jig, but we don’t. Not really. Despite the bad economy, there are probably not nearly as many in need of a disposable object like the ones I’ve listed above. I mean, did I need a 3DS? No, of course not. Did I buy it anyway? Yes. And I could make the argument that I’ve been price-watching for, well, since it came out, and this is one of the lowest prices around, but that doesn’t mean I need it. Just like Rocksmith, which I almost bought yesterday from Amazon, but managed to control that ‘proceed to checkout’ button with all its glamour and allure.
By that same token, while I was out and about yesterday afternoon, at the Target, again, I stood in line, somewhat minding my own business, but as you can probably glean from my character, I’m not really the ‘minding my own business’ type. Not in a meddling Scooby Doo way, (sadly because that would be interesting, but also unsafe as I’m afraid of dogs), but in a conscientious sort of way. I was watching all the queues, trying to play the over-whelming game of which one was going faster, and as is the custom in Target, when the queues are all super-long, they call another person up to the front. As luck would have it that was right next to the queue I was already standing in. There were two women in front of me, both with hardly anything, and me with a cart full of nonsense (including Bioshock for $7 from the clearance section, what?!?). One woman jumped straight into the other line, everyone else around us seemingly brain dead. The woman in front of me had one item and I had so many more than one. I could have just cut right over and forgotten about her, she was on her mobile, blathering away about God knows what. But I didn’t. I tapped her on the shoulder and pointed to the open till. She glanced over, surprised, than jumped into the line, uttering a thoughtless thanks. It wasn’t until moments later that I think she realised that I was actually doing her a decent favour.
The point of this story isn’t self-indulgent drivel (though you might think so, go right ahead), but about the fact that I gained absolutely nothing from this encounter, but saved someone, maybe five minutes. But in doing so, I’d like to think I passed on a little good will. And that is hard to come by, despite the time of year. People always go on and on about how you should be giving or be thankful, but how many of us really are? I didn’t get her into that queue because I needed good points for Heaven (though, God knows I probably could use some more – I consider religion on a point system, it’s easier that way). I did it because I don’t want to waste someone else’s time being selfish. To me, that is what this season should be all about. We’re all so busy, all year round, trying to ‘get ours’ that we all overlook simple, common courtesies.
When you’re out and about this holiday season, take a page from that unheralded Haley Joel Osment movie, Pay it Forward. Sometimes, it costs you nothing (like me yesterday) to do something selfless, or just nice, for someone else. Do it. It’ll make you feel better and might turn someone’s day around. We all are so busy getting caught up in our own affairs that we can’t see the forest for the trees, as the saying goes. Just because you’re hurting or upset doesn’t mean that someone else isn’t too. Take a second and display a little kindness, it might make all the difference in the world. If you’re feeling more adventurous, find a Tots for Toys box or a charity to donate money, a toy, something. Those of us that ‘have’ need to help those that don’t. It isn’t something only adults can do; every little bit helps and might make a world of difference to someone who doesn’t have much to look forward to.