The Christmas season is my favorite time of year. I love the lights, the decorations, the sparkle in young children’s eyes. It’s the time of year when there seems to be extra cheer and I get to spend even more time cooking for others. For me, all of this excitement begins on the day after Thanksgiving.
This year, however, it’s quite different. It’s my first year as an empty nester, which makes the start of the holiday season feel so different. Although it’s been years since I read a Christmas book to my kids at bedtime, I’m used to the energy and anticipation of children (even teens) in our home. In addition to an empty nest, we also are kind of nest-less. We are finishing up our hotel stay, as we prepare to move into our new home this Wednesday. Our accommodations are nice, and the staff here has done a lovely job of decorating, but I’m still living in a hotel room that isn’t home. And of course, there’s the part of me that’s grieving the loss of my brother this year. There’s a very big part of me that’s filled with sadness during my favorite time of year. To help with this sadness, I’ve used both in-person and online therapy.
As November neared its end, I decided to make a few resolutions. First, I had to accept that this holiday season would simply be different. With an early December move-in date, decorating might be less but I would embrace the excitement of our new home. Second, I decided that different dates would be important. Instead of looking forward to the day after Thanksgiving to decorate, I’m excited for the third week of December when both of my kids come home from college. Third, I realized that although I would be sad, I could do kind things for others and in that find some happiness.
The first two resolutions were simple. Wait for kids to come home when finals are done. Wait for moving day to arrive. Each of these events has a separate countdown. (Currently at 1 day to moving, 5 days until daughter is home, 9 days until son is home.) The third resolution took a bit more work.
I could have left the kind act to randomness, but I work better with organization. So, I created a random acts of kindness calendar for myself. With many online versions available, I looked at tons of them and found inspiration for creating my own. While making the calendar, I decided that some of the things I do will be anonymous, but others will be done in-person. Having completed my first five acts of kindness, I look forward to each day’s act in hope that I make someone else’s day brighter.
Already this holiday season, there have been many moments when there’s a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I have learned to accept that is how this season will be. But knowing that each day I’ll do something kind for someone else helps to ease that sadness just a little bit. Focusing on make another person’s day a little brighter has made mine brighter also.
A final thought: Although this was my choice to perform random acts of kindness this month, I’m wondering if others might be interested in doing this also. I’m not asking for a daily commitment to this but a single, simple act. If you read this article and decide to do something kind for someone else, please share it in the comments. I’d love to see these acts of kindness multiply.
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