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small deeds

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

The other day I was walking to the grocery store when a woman ran up to me, tapped my shoulder and said, “you dropped this.”  She handed me my ATM card.  I got out a whispered wide-mouthed, “thank you,” but my desire to express my profuse gratitude didn’t make it before she vanished.  My mind started to swirl!

I felt an instant need to return the favor.

She just saved me God knows how much aggravation.

The world has way more good people than nefarious ones.

I really must return the favor, but what can I do?

I’m trying to think up a big idea, but in the meantime, I want to do 12 small spontaneous deeds for strangers throughout the holiday season. The 12 days of Christmas, for me, will mean little gestures that might, in some minute way, brighten a moment in someone’s ordinary day.

Maybe this is already part of your routine.  Maybe you want to join me.  Either way, tell me (via the comment section) about your daily bright spots.

Day 12 – Guess what?!  I know Santa Claus!  The real-deal, North-Pole-living, sleigh-riding jolly old man himself!!  And for my final small deed I asked him for help!  I took the money hubby and I usually spend on holiday cards for family and friends and we gave it away to strangers.  We had seven holiday cards, each with some cash inside and a message to have a happy holiday.  Hubby armed himself with the camera, I had a bag of candy canes and Santa, the master at deliveries, had the envelopes.  We hit South Bay Center one morning and surprised a parking lot of people.  It was amazing to watch how young and old came running to see Mr. Claus.  Cars, full of adults, drove around the parking lot, children dragged parents out of stores, and everyone beamed at having their pictures taken with Santa!  Ok, there were some children who hollered for Santa but when he stopped by, they started crying.  But that was kind of cute too!  They like Santa from a distance!  This young couple told us it was their daughter’s first Christmas and they waited 45 minutes the other day for a picture with Santa at a mall only to have him go on break.  They never got a picture, that is until Parking Lot Santa showed up!  We hope the cash was a nice surprise for some strangers, but it was all worth it to see the pure joy on so many faces at the mere sight of Old Saint Nick!

Day 11 – I went to get a cup of coffee and the woman behind the counter was super sweet.  I left her a big tip.  I hope it brightened her day just a bit!

*(Mike told me about his small deed in the comment section.  He gave his monthly Charlie Card to the woman about to put money on her card! I love that idea!  Yeah, Mike!!)

Day 10 – On my way to the store, I saw some litter so I put it in the trash.  I arrived to the store and before me, a few more pieces of paper were blowing in the wind.  It was so easy to put them in the garbage.  A man saw me doing my small deed and said, “thank you.”  I was grateful for his appreciation.

Day 9 – I took Cricket for a walk this morning and picked up some arrant piles of poop (a suggestion from my friend Jen!).  I hope Cricket and I saved your shoes from a stinky day!

*(Erinn shared in the comment section that she likes to brush snow off of neighboring cars!  I hope we all get a chance to park next to an Erinn!)

Day 8 – While at Dunkin Donuts to get a cup of coffee, I saw a stand full of gift cards.  I added several to my order.  When I went running, I took a different route and gave Dunkin Donuts gift cards to some folks who looked like they could use a hot cup of coffee.  It was great!

*(Marsha from NC left a note in the comment section.  She bought a meal for a stranger.  She was paying it forward!  How awesome is that?!  Thanks Marsha!!!)

Day 7 – I have a couple pairs of gently worn mittens.  I put them in my work bag and on my way to and from work, I placed them in areas where I’ve seen homeless women.  I hope the gloves will help just a bit this winter.

Day 6 – I ran into Walgreens to pick up some stuff and saw a Toys for Tots bin.  So in my basket with some water and face cream, I added a couple of toys.  I put them in the box with the rest of the collection and smiled as I exited the store.

*(Very excited!!!  My friend Anita sent me this awesome tweet:

Anita Moller@aamoller: @susantran It’s contagious! I was inspired to do a good deed today.
@aamoller: @susantran Yep. While on my run, I stopped to carry the newspaper to a cute little man so he didn’t have to walk down the icy drive to get it.)

Day 5 – On my run today, I had a pocket full of scratch-off lottery tickets, and as I jogged around town, I handed them to strangers.  It was much more fun and far more comical than I’d imagined it would be!  Every one appeared taken aback, confused, or shocked.  I smiled, said, “Happy Holidays,” and ran off (I should have worn my elf hat!).  As my strides moved me forward, I could hear them yell, “Thank You!”  Those two words powered me for the rest of my trek home.

Day 4 – I went to get a soda and a snack at some vending machines and I left the change.

photo by: tomlin

*(I applied to Caring Canines but got an email response saying its program is at full capacity.  Sad for me but awesome for the program!)

Day 3 – I noticed some union brothers in the cold this morning.  I stopped by a Dunkin Donuts and bought them some hot coffee.  It was their appreciation that warmed me.

*(It’s only day 3 and I’m finding it somewhat difficult to do a small good deed, which is kind of upsetting.  Please consider giving me some suggestions.  I’m looking for small gestures.  Thanks in advance!)

Day 2 – I walked to lunch with a pocket full of quarters.  I fed several expired meters.  I hope I kept you from a ticket.

Day 1 – I’m running along the Christian Science Center and I notice a family of four.  Mom is trying to get her two sons and husband in the perfect picture.  I stop and ask if I can help take a family photo for them.  They hand me their Canon, smile, and I capture their broad grins in front of The Original Mother Church.  I make sure they’re satisfied with my work and run off.  They put a smile on my face and my stride home had a new elasticity.