Spreading Cheer (MY VOICE, by Kim Fidler)

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As the Christmas holiday approaches and the stores are already stocked with gifts, decorations, and more, I cannot help but think about how some people will go into debt in order to buy the biggest, best, and/or most expensive gifts. This is so sad to me when I consider the real reason for the season. Each year, I make the recommendation that instead of spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on gifts, that we give gifts that are lasting, such as:

  • Homemade gifts – Poems, pictures, crafts, letters, food, etc.
  • Our time/attention – Get together with tea or wine, lunch, dinner, etc.
  • Our support – Donate to a worthy cause. Volunteer for a group with a special cause. Visit someone who is homebound or in a nursing home.

In addition, I recently read an article in the Spencer Evening World about a speaker who challenged OVHS students to make a difference in themselves and others by keeping promises. The speaker was Alex Sheen. Alex is the founder of “Because I Said I Would”. Alex says that many times people say they are going to do things. Promises are made, but not kept. Alex passed out business cards to the students with one simple sentence, “Because I Said I Would.” Alex asked each student to write a promise on the card, give it to someone, keep the promise, and the card would be returned. The promise has to be kept in order to earn the card back. Since September 4, 2012, over 3.5 billion promise cards have been distributed to over 153 countries around the world. People are also asked to share their promises on social media. Anyone interested in taking part in this movement can visit the website, www.becauseisaidiwould.com to request cards or print cards of their own. Imagine the power of such a move. I would encourage everyone to send out 3 to 5 such cards.

I would also like to suggest that we remember those in the LGBT community, as well as others, who for whatever reason are either shunned by family members or do not have family members. Those who have no family of their own for a variety of reasons, tend to be those who suffer most emotionally during the holidays. If you know of such a person, please invite them to join your family. Please ensure that your family and/or friends will be accepting of that person. Please emphasize the importance to everyone of including additional people to celebrate the holidays. Before you know it, you will have an additional family member/friend. I know that some of the people that I love most are not relatives. I have met them in a variety of ways. The point is to make the world a better place, one person at a time (or maybe five)!

These are not strictly recommendations for Christmas. I make an effort to do these things and more throughout the year. I make an effort make eye contact and to speak with as many people as possible each day. It takes only a moment to brighten the day of another person. This makes my kids crazy. It does take some time and effort. But, the result is fabulous! Not everyone will respond in a positive manner. However, 9 out of 10 times, there is a great result. Take time to smile at and talk to others such as waiters, bank tellers, people who work in gas stations or grocery stores, and even people you simply pass in the aisles at stores. I am always amazed that people remember me and things about me that I have told them, even if I do not see them often. When I ask people how they remember me, they say, “It is because you were kind to me.”

So, I am not saying that your kids or others will be happy if you give them a homemade coupon book of hugs and kisses for Christmas instead of an Xbox or some other expensive gift. However, we must do the best that we can every day of the year. You will make a very positive, memorable impression if you smile and speak to others. There is nothing that makes me happier than a card with words written in it. I also love short, sweet text messages or emails. The bottom line is that it takes very little time or effort to make another person feel valued and special. In the meantime, you also feel great about yourself. High-priced gifts do not accomplish this.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Make the New Year count in ways that you never have before. Keep the kindness going throughout the year! Pay it forward every day!

This web post was written by Spencer Pride Director Kim Fidler.  It is a part of our “Voices of Spencer Pride” series where volunteers share their thoughts and ideas about things that are important to them.  Kim is our most frequent writer, publishing one article every month.  We hope that you enjoy her writing.  If so, please share the link with your friends so that they can get value out of it as well!