“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” sings Andy Williams. The holiday season is upon us and while we are all wrapped up with the need to buy, buy, buy for our friends and family, I would like to pause and take a moment to reflect on how we’ve shown kindness to others throughout 2018 with minimal thought, simple gestures and little money.

Have you been so fortunate as to have had the person in front of you pay for your coffee/meal at the drive thru? Ever receive a random gift card from a stranger in the checkout line? Maybe your waiter informed you that the couple at the next table has picked up your dinner tab? These Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) come without the expectation of getting anything in return.

Here are some heartwarming examples I’ve been told:

  • • A friend told me when she was shopping for diapers and milk, a man walked up to her and handed her a $50 gift card. He said someone was kind to his mom when he was small and his family was struggling. “He’d heard me tell the kids that we couldn’t get several things because they weren’t in the budget that month, so he wanted to do for us what was once done for him.”
  • A few people said they’ve had people pay for their meals when they were in uniform, when they forgot their wallets or when they were out alone with their young children.
  • A friend said she and her boys once checked a book out from the library that included a RAK card and $1. Her boys thought it was awesome, so they left it for the next person to find.
  • Another mom said she went to rent a movie at Redbox and someone left a bag of microwave popcorn with a note, “Enjoy a treat with your movie.”
  • My boys like to cut out stars and write “Have a Great Day!” with a quarter taped to it. They leave their notes near the carts at ALDI or near candy machines.
  • The most popular RAK mentioned was the “Drive-Thru Difference” when you pay for the order behind you at the drive-thru. Someone told me she was the 26th person to pay for the person behind her. I’d love to know how long that chain reaction continued.

Remember, it doesn’t always have to be a monetary gift. Sometimes being thoughtful is all that is needed to make someone’s day. Allow someone to pull in front of you, leave a painted rock with an uplifting quote written on it, hold the elevator door open, offer a compliment or say thank you while making eye contact.

Whether you’re on the receiving or giving end of a RAK, the emotions are overwhelming. I’ve heard the following: “It started my day on an awesome note.” “It’s an amazing feeling.” “It was so unexpected and made me feel so good.” “I cried all the way home.” “It put my world in balance.”

It truly is the little things in life that make the biggest impact. What can you do to make a difference this holiday season?