41 cookies. A head lamp. Mariah Carey’s “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” played at least ten times. Two matching XXL thermal shirts just purchased from Target. Two hours of walking around campus. Giving and receiving more smiles than I can count.
What am I talking about?
An experience that taught me more about the ‘real’ Christmas spirit than any lecture or book ever could. A night that showed me the true goodness of people. A couple hours out of my night that showed me selflessness.
I’m pretty sure my heart grew 16 times, just like the Grinch. Again you ask, what am I talking about?
I’ll set the scene for you. Picture three friends watching Elf together (yes, my second time of seeing Elf this Christmas season). We were lucky enough to be watching Elf because the rest of campus is busy studying away. Everyone is burrowed in books (and not the fun kind), surrounded by stacks of papers, engulfed in projects. Essentially, this campus looks like any campus does the night before finals: no fun. So, now imagine a trio of sugared-up girls in their PJ’s who get a brilliant idea to add a little brightness to the nights of peers. Blame it on the hot cocoa, attribute it to the contagious nature of Buddy the Elf’s smile and kind heart, or just say it was caused by true Christmas spirit. Whatever sparked it, Eliza came up with the great idea to buy cookies from our campus’ coffee shop and pass them out to kids who were hard at work studying. Call us a train, because after she said it, Andrea and I were on board. Andrea immediately donned a head lamp (we’re still trying to figure that move out), I grabbed my camera, and we were off so that Andrea could buy 41 cookies of varying flavors to share with the academic world.
Our first recipient was Sullivan, our precious friend who had a super-hard exam the next day. There were scribbles of chemistry jargon all over the whiteboard, notebooks strewn across desks, and the most complicated graphs I’ve ever seen in my life drawn out. Sullivan loved the cookie and we were happy we could give such a hard-worker a little break! From there, we walked through the science building, then to the library, then to another building on campus where we handed out cookies to anyone who wanted one.
“This just gave me a second wind!”
“These are free?”
“A cookie sounds perfect right now!”
And mostly, we were asked: “Why are you doing this?”
Each time we were asked that question, my heart felt like it got a little bigger and my smile a little wider. Because as soon as they realized we were just spending our night giving little pieces of encouragement to students just like us, their faces lit up.
If this college campus was a Christmas tree, it would have lit up tonight with the smiles and surprise of the kids we gave cookies to. I know it’s corny, but giving out the cookies with Andrea and Eliza felt genuine and good.
It also made me want to do more. Maybe selflessness is as addictive as the Unstoppable Bars we made yesterday. If it is, my life priorities might change around a little bit. Overall, tonight was definitely a special and memorable one spent with two of my best friends. And I’m proud and thankful to have friends like the ones that I do, people who care about others from the bottom of their hearts.
I hope that this tale of 41 cookies and head lamps and Mariah Carey and Elf and smiles has you ready to walk out the door and do something special with your day today. What are some ideas that you have to brighten someone’s day? Comment below and share any little tips for kindness that you come up with. Here are a couple to get us started.
1. Buy someone lunch. 2. Write someone a sweet note and leave it in a spot that they’ll find later on in the day. 3. Take someone out for a hot cup of coffee. 4. Take a walk with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Sometimes time is the greatest gift you can give someone. 5. Send someone a card in the mail who might need encouragement this holiday season. 6. Check out your local charities/volunteer opportunities and see if there’s an afternoon or a couple hours that you could spend volunteering. 7. Bake a batch of cookies and bring them to your local firefighters or police department. 8. Wait just a few seconds longer to hold the door open for the person behind you. 9. Do the dishes, even if it’s not your day to do them. 10. Smile. Maybe a cheerful face is all that someone needs.
So, those are some ideas. Again, let me know yours. I’d love to hear simple ways to give this holiday season and beyond. I know I’ve certainly been inspired by my ‘cookie monster’ friends who tonight helped me feel that warm, fuzzy feeling. I think they feel the same way, too.