This week I dropped off a bag of gifts for a child I do not know and will never meet. They were dropped off at the offices of a law firm that was collecting gifts for disadvantaged children who may not get a Christmas otherwise. Several weeks ago I was emailed her sizes and wish list. Then the fun began.
Shopping for someone you do not know and will never meet certainly has its challenges. Even when you want to fulfill their wishes, it can be difficult. Her list said she wanted a doll. A baby doll? A Barbie doll? A princess or a superhero doll? White or black? Blond or brunette? Those are choices that would have been easy if I had known the little girl. Or had even met her once. But alas, I had no insight into her interests or her life, so I just shopped.
She needed some clothes, and I had her size. A warm jacket, some shoes, and a few outfits that I know she could wear to school. But I did not know her favorite color, or her other interests. A purple fleece with unicorns? Or yellow with planets? These seemingly superficial choices could turn out to be a huge hit or a deep disappointment to my little recipient. I want it so much to be the first.
I believe that as humans, we all want to do good. We want to make a positive difference. We want to play Santa. And while we sometimes are fortunate enough to see the impact our words or actions might make, most times, we are not.
When we pause in traffic to allow that other driver to ease in, we may not know that it is a harried young mother trying to hurry home with a prescription for her sick child. And that our kindness, eased her stress just a bit. Or when we stop to pick up the empty can that was discarded on the sidewalk, we may have prevented a curious toddler from cutting their finger. Or when we throw a few coins into a seasonal donation bucket, we have helped a struggling family put a nutritious meal together for their children.
Small gestures, kind words, and gracious deeds all have a positive impact that we usually do not see. These are some of the most powerful ways to make a difference.
So much has been taken away from us in this tumultuous year of 2020. Predictability, certainty in the future, and comforting routines have all been shaken. Social circles have shrunken and isolation is the norm. Yet in spite of all of this, our power to do good has never been greater. Or more powerful.
We can all play Santa this year. We all have the power to make positive contributions that will have vast ripple effects far beyond what we might imagine. Right now, wearing our masks and avoiding crowds is a powerful act. A powerful act that is making a huge difference.
Cheer’s to everyone being Santa this year!