Last Saturday, our church choir visited a nursing home. We sang our Christmas Cantata for the residents. It was just a small thing – only took about two hours out of our busy schedules. Yes, just a small thing, but with resounding results. You see we were told our singing was probably the only Christmas celebration some of these oldsters would have.
I began to ponder additional small things that might change lives. Why not try kindnesses -- perhaps a smile, a wink of the eye, or even an offered piece of chocolate, allowing someone to step ahead of you in the check-out line – small things that may have made a positive difference in the lives of others.
Do you remember that time when you were new – perhaps in the classroom or job, even new to the neighborhood or city? Of course you do – also, you remember that classmate or fellow employee who took the time to offer you kindness, to show you around, answer a few questions, invite you to lunch, or just bring you a bottle of water? I distinctly remember my first day at GMAC and the kindnesses that were shown to me by several people in the office, but especially Mary Ellen Germany. She had explained a work duty to me on that morning and I had misunderstood. She said, “Oh, that’s okay. Everyone has to be new sometimes.” I’ve never forgotten that. It was a small thing, but a great encourager to a young woman, such as I was at the time.
Small things … a quick phone call, a short visit, a card in the mail – all small things, but to the receiver, the gesture could be life-saving. That someone who suffered from depression, the family member with loved ones fighting the many wars in the Middle East, or the soldier on foreign soil missing family and friends, the young woman trying to adjust to motherhood, the recent widow, that spouse who had lost their mate to Alzheimer as well. The list goes on and on.
I recently read something that struck me as a singular act of kindness. The writer proposed each person make a real effort to do at least one kind thing per day – only one thing. This small thing can change the entire direction of this old world. I’ve decided to try it and see. I invite you, no; I strongly encourage you to try as well.
Today, I smiled at a child who was crying for something in the toy department. Just a quick little smile and she blinked her teary eyes and gave me a real stare, then, she smiled, too. The power of a smile continues to overwhelm me – the smile is a constant, a sign of kindness, and I’ve been told, a great exercise for sagging skin. I plan to smile around-the-clock …
It was just two cans of soup and a box of crackers. Just two cans of soup that fed an entire family and allowed them to sit together for a meal. Do we ever know the true story – how the food we donate can make a determined difference in a life? Perhaps these souls had given up – all hope was gone. Then, someone handed them the two cans of soup and box of crackers. The hope returned.
Do you remember that old box of Christmas decorations? Yes, the box that was always in your way. The old decorations seemed to have lost their shinny luster. So you boxed them up for trash, but just by chance, the thought came to you … why not take them to Wesley House or Salvation Army? Why not? Today the decorations are enjoyed by a family with small children – their eyes sparkle as they admire the old ornaments that you once thought were ugly and had lost their beauty. It was just a small thing.
The lonely lady stared out her window. How had the time passed so quickly? It seemed only yesterday when she and her husband dressed for one of many Christmas parties they attended every year. She blinked back tears as she looked through old picture albums – reminiscing of those wonderful days. Then, her doorbell rang – bringing sweet voices and sparkling eyes that greeted her as children from the nearby school stopped by for a visit. The teacher had called earlier to make certain it was okay. The teacher and students brought the old lady handmade ornaments – really just popcorn strings and paper cutouts … just small things, but how she smiled.
At this time of year, I think of Samaritan’s Purses, Lottie Moon International Missions, and our local causes: Wesley House, Salvation Army, Mustard Tree Ministries, Baptist Crisis Center, and many others. I think of each hand that has contributed and each heart that has been touched – just small things that will made a world of positive differences in many lives.
Over two thousand years ago, there was a tiny baby born. He was just a small thing – a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes who was and is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords forever and ever more.
Luke 2:11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
Anne McKee is a writer and storyteller. Visit her web site: www.annemckee.net.