I sat down in the most perfect seat on the last leg of my trip. It was perfect because it had so much legroom. I’m a tall woman and this trip had included three flights with seats pressed against my knees. Discovering that the gate agent had swapped me for this seat on flight #4 was huge. I could stretch out my legs and only barely touch the seat in front of me with my toes. I was giggly.
As the small plane door was closed, a flight attendant came to stand next to me and prepared to do her safety training. I watched as she squatted down to set all her props on the floor and stood back up.
“Would you like me to hold those for you?” I leaned towards her and asked with a smile.
Her face lit up. “Oh, thank you!”
“Of course,” I replied with a shrug. Seriously, I could hold a couple of oxygen bags and a seat belt for 90 seconds.
She kept smiling at me as she did her presentation, swapping out each prop for the next. When it was done, she smiled again, squeezed my shoulder and said, “I owe you.”
“Oh no, it was nothing.”
“No one has ever offered to do that for me,” she said.
My jaw dropped. Seriously? That’s awful, I thought. As a reward, she gave me a free tapas snack box, a delight I’d eyed on the menu but was not going to splurge at that price. She even asked if there was anything else I wanted–a drink? another snack? “No, thank you. This is wonderful.”
It cost me nothing to be kind and yet it was so rare to this hard-working woman that she gushed and rewarded me. As a widowed mom, I often feel embarrassment or shame that I don’t have the means to give as generously as I would like or that I am often on the receiving end of generosity. Ever been there? What I have to offer seems meager and unimportant and accepting help can be hard. But on this day, a simple kindness I offered lightened the load of a stranger’s day.
Jesus once saw a poor widow giving a tiny offering while rich people gave so much more. In Luke 21:3-4: “He said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow gave more than all those rich people. They gave only what they did not need. This woman is very poor, but she gave all she had to live on.’” (NCV)
I can never fully repay the amazing kindness and generosity that continues to help me provide for my kids since Kraig died. I just can’t. But there is abundance that I have that doesn’t come from my checking account. There are simple things each of us can give that cost us nothing but can mean the world to someone else.
A kind smile to someone who looks weary.
An offer to help lift a bag of groceries to the mom who is juggling kids at the store.
A conversation with someone who is lonely.
Or, holding the props for a flight attendant facing a long day on her feet.
If your heart is overflowing in a way your bank account isn’t, choose to give out of that abundance this Christmas season. Give the gift of your presence, your respect, your helping hand, and your kindness this Christmas. It could truly make someone’s day brighter.
What’s one way you give at Christmas that isn’t money? I’d love to hear more ideas in the comments.
Next week: Simple & Inexpensive Ways to Make a Difference This Christmas. The widow in Jesus’s story does give money, small though the amount is. Even when we have limited means, showing our kids the joy of giving to others with even less, is a priceless lesson. Next week I’ll have some simple, low-cost ways you and your family can give this season to those less fortunate.