Wishing you all the appreciation of ‘small acts of kindness’ this holiday season
December 15, 2021
A fond Christmas memory of mine occurred some years ago when my three children were still quite small. We headed out to attend the Children’s Mass at San Fernando. As part of the Christmas adventure, we took the VIA trolley that used to roll on various routes through downtown. We had not anticipated the sudden drop in temperature that occurred when the blue norther blew into town while we were safely ensconced within the church walls. In our usual south Texas in December attire, we were woefully underdressed, and many teeth were chattering (I recall some wailing occurred as well, but that was mostly me) while we waited at the trolley stop for our return ride.
As I boarded with my family, I wondered who got stuck driving empty trolleys around San Antonio on Christmas Eve? It turns out that Santa’s elves assisted that night and our delightful driver, without any suggestion from us, insisted on dropping us very close to our home, which was only “slightly” off his usual route. Hot chocolate thereafter tasted especially good.
One of the special blessings of the holiday season is the many “small” acts of kindness which occur. I am not clear if more occur during this season or perhaps merely, I am more aware of their occurrence. Because no act of kindness is truly small. The one I described above occurred over 25 years ago, but the memory of that kindness still lives with me, enriching my life and my appreciation for “strangers.”
A few years ago, during an intense discussion with a close friend, she taught me something I had never heard. In the end there are only two human emotions; love and its opposite, which many believe to be hate. However, the opposite of love is not hate, but fear. Hate is certainly an expression of fear as is every negative feeling/emotion. Conversely, kindness, compassion, and caring are expressions of the root emotion which we know as love. More recently I read a quote that was a slight twist on the love: fear dichotomy. I am not sure to whom it would be attributed, but the statement was “the absence of love is fear.”
As we prepare in our own ways for our holiday celebrations and share those with family, friends, pets, or strangers, it is my hope that you will see more opportunities to practice and appreciate small acts of kindness.
Watch for the person holding the door for you, sharing a smile (more challenging but not impossible from behind a mask; requires more expression in the eyes), dropping a plate of food or bag of groceries at the door of a person who is homebound or any other way you might comfortably connect with another, especially someone you may not know well.
Trust me, these gifts will be returned to you 100-fold.
With Kindness & Peace –
David Gude, MD
Chief Operating Officer, Texas MedClinic