Everyone loves getting and giving gifts, and I’m no exception. It’s not even Christmas yet, but I’ve already started giving my favorite gift to everyone I meet – my smile. Usually, I get one back, especially this time of year. Occasionally, I’ll have someone look at me like I’m nuts because I’m smiling at them when I don’t even know them, but that’s okay. I keep smiling anyway because like Buddy the Elf in the movie Elf says, “I just like smiling, smiling’s my favorite.”
It just feels good to smile and to get one in return. Sometimes I wonder what’s going on in a person’s life when I smile and they won’t smile back. Such was the case with a young man I encountered when I went to drop off some donations at a local Goodwill store yesterday. As I drove up, this young man brought out the cart for my donations. His shoulders were slumped, and he wasn’t making eye contact with me. I’m the type of person who loves to talk to everyone, so I tried to get him to talk, but he wasn’t responding. I sensed a sadness in him, so I refused to give up. I just had to get this guy to smile, not for my sake but for his own. I noticed his name tag and decided to call him by name to see if that would do the trick.
When I said his name, his face brightened, he stood up straight, and he gave me the sweetest smile that made me feel so good from my head to my toes. I’ve always heard that people like the sound of their own name, and in this case, it was true. Calling him by name let him know that even though I didn’t know him, I valued him as a person. It let him know that I know he is somebody special.
Everybody we meet is somebody special, but some of them have forgotten. Will you help them to remember this holiday season? Will you give someone a smile? Will you call them by name? Will you let them in front of you in traffic? Will you offer a sincere compliment to a stranger? Will you call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a while? Will you be willing to keep your eyes and heart open to notice someone who’s forgotten how special they are? One day, out of the blue, you may to feel inspired to do something special for someone. Don’t ignore that inspiration. There is so much joy to be found in giving. Give of yourself and watch the magic of the holidays come alive.
I have already begun to feel the magic of the holidays thinking about my new friend from Goodwill wishing me happy holidays and telling me to have a good night. This young man, who only moments before was trying everything he could not to have to talk to me, was now happy and cordial. I can’t even begin to tell you the feeling I had in my heart as I drove away. I knew something special had just happened. I gave the small gift of a smile but received something so much greater in return – a feeling of love and joy that cannot be described. The best gifts in life truly are free. It costs us nothing to smile and speak kind words.
I wish you a Merry Christmas season full of joy, love, and giving!