Pay it Forward

Wow, a straight-forward title? What is going on? It’s called, “I’m tired and anxious but still have ideas.”

I cannot tell you how excited I am that it’s finally December. I’m ignoring the fact that the building I’m in is ONLY playing the country versions of Christmas songs, but besides that, in case you didn’t know already, I live for Christmas. It is “my time to shine.” (Slight pun? Let’s go with it.)

But past all of the shiny things, the lights and wrapping paper and movies and everything else, there still remains the core essence of the holiday season. I see people talk about it, but in this instance, actions speak much louder than words. They don’t have to be big actions. Something is always better than nothing. You can think all you want of this season of good cheer and giving, but if you don’t give anything, what’s the point?

I immediately gravitate toward the simple acts of kindness we witness every day because they’re more feasible for me. This is where the title comes in. When I first looked up “pay it forward,” call me sheltered, but I didn’t realize that there was a novel and movie of the same name promoting a similar concept. In that narrative, a young boy does three good deeds for those in need in hopes of inspiring others to do the same. A few little random tasks might not seem like much to you, but for somebody else, it could make a world of difference. And if one little moment of kindness can spark the selflessness in other people, think of how much good could be done if everybody did a little extra each day to show genuine kindness. Think of how even more beautiful the world would become.

Again, these tasks do not have to elaborate by any means. When you’re buying food or coffee, pay for the order of the next customer. Donate a little money to your favorite charity or, even better, volunteer for them. Or volunteer in general for any person or organization, even if that’s helping somebody carry groceries. Thank people you might not think of thanking, the people perhaps “behind the scenes” that make your life easier. If you’re shoveling your driveway or scraping off the frosted windows of your car, do the same for your neighbor. It can be that simple.

I will probably write more about this later, but I am a firm believer in the Code of the Elves. Yes, the three sentences the classroom recites in “Elf.” Today, I think of one idea in particular: Treat every day like Christmas. We place such an emphasis on giving around Christmas, which makes sense in light of gift-giving traditions and to combat the overwhelming commercialism associated with the holidays. But why do we seem to let these mentalities go on December 26? What makes Christmas so different from any other day of the year? Especially when we get older and holidays feel more just like any other day, there should be no reason why the good will has to maintain an expiration date. Why we can’t automatically wish people a wonderful day and smile at strangers and remind ourselves of the magic surrounding us. Although it feels a tad more festive when wearing a sweater.

When life gets busy, when let those little practices and ideas of giving go to the wayside. Life is stressful and hectic. But I believe we are giving creatures by nature. That we innately want the best for each other and want to make the world a better place. With little tasks of paying it forward, hopefully that instinct can come through despite everyday challenges and stress.

Christmas is great reminder of paying it forward, although the season in itself can be very stressful, running around to get together Christmas gifts and cards and goodies and decorations and everything else. But what should we prioritize, having a house with lights that illuminate the darkness, or act in a way that shines despite the darkness of a seemingly cold, unjust world?

I don’t know about you, but boy do I feel so warm and tingly inside when somebody does something seemingly insignificant that automatically brightens your day. I want others to feel that way, too. I want to make the world better than when I first entered it. I want to do good and make a difference. Although I picture myself doing big things in the future to help others, like join the Peace Corps, I can already make a difference right here, right now, no plane ticket required. Sometimes the people most in need are the ones directly in front of us.

Knowing that I will be writing plenty about Christmas this month, I hope you all have a wonderful month. Wonderful not just for the traditions and fun music, but wonderful for the potential the month has to spark some kindness and generosity. The Grinch didn’t grow an enormous heart from stealing the Whos’ Christmas. That moment of peace when paying it forward is a moment that doesn’t have to end, but I encourage each of us to pay it forward into every month of the year.

And if that means you want to keep your Christmas tree up all year, I’m not telling you know. Chances are, I’ll be doing the same exact thing. Did I mention that I love Christmas?

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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