Saturday, February 23, 2013


26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1

            Sitting.  Seems harmless.  Seems unproductive.  Seems like a waste of time.  Sometimes "sitting" is a waste of time, but other times it is an expression of love and kindness that can touch every family member.

            Some recent examples in our family include the following:
                        being gone from home for 12 hours—with most of that time sitting on bleachers—so I could take a daughter to a traveling recreational basketball tournament;
                        repeating the above the next weekend;
                        driving 4 hours in one direction for a college visit, spending most of my day sitting in parent and general information meetings, and then driving home again;
                        repeating the above again for another child going the opposite direction to visit a different college;
                        leaving home at 5:30 and driving 2 ½ hours to take my kids to a group-rate skiing trip and then spending 10 ½ hours dividing  my time between waiting (and reading) in the lodge and walking out to check on and watch my kids on the slopes; and
                        simply watching a good family show together

            How can this be an expression of love?  The investment of time can often be more valuable and appreciated than the receiving gifts, money, or even special privileges.  The 1970's introduced the idea of parents concentrating on spending quality time with their children and worrying less about spending quantity time with their children.  The idea became more solidified and put into practice in the 1980's and 1990's.  However, the long-term results have shown this idea to be greatly flawed.  Yes, having some "quality" time between parents and children is important, but often memorable, quality time comes as a result of spending quantity time.

            For example, on the return trip home from a college visit, my daughter stopped in the middle of a conversation and said, "This is kind of weird." 

            "What do you mean?  What did I say?"

            "No.  That's not it.  It's a good kind of weird.  It seems like we are always doing this or that, and our conversation is usually you telling me what I need to do or my asking you questions about what I need to do or questions about homework.  This is nice.  Just talking."

            That conversation happened because I took the time to be with my daughter and spent enough time with her to allow the "urgent" to fade away and to allow a time of pondering and reflection to drift to the top of our conversation.

            As I am writing this, the majority of my children are playing a game on a coffee table with another daughter sitting next to the game while reading her book.  A few feet away from them, my husband lies on the floor watching another daughter build with Lego blocks.  I am purposely positioned near all of this.  Despite some differences in our hands-on activities, we are spending time together as a family.  I know it will not technically fit everyone's definition of spending time together, but too often choosing to stay together in the same room for an evening is overlooked as making a difference.  Contrast this to a family that spends its time in separate rooms (or bedrooms) every night.  The overall relationships are different.

            Another example would be my grandson yesterday.  I have not seen him since Christmas.  Although he was not terrified to have me at his house, he did rush into my arms.  In contrast, after spending time with him—sitting on the floor next to him while he played and gradually talking to him and playing with him—he began leading me around the house to show me things and was willing to give me hugs and kisses.  This did not happen because of something wonderful I did with him (quality time), but because I had spent an extended amount of time with him (quantity time).  He did not need me to bring him a bag full of presents.  He simply needed me to spend time sitting with him.  My sitting with him whispered words of love and kindness that touched his almost 2-year old heart.  Even though "sitting" can sometimes be a lazy escape and a waste of time, at other times sitting can be powerful and life changing.  How has "sitting" made a difference in your life?

Monday, February 4, 2013

#15—Thank You for Your Patience

26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1
#15— Thank You for Your Patience

             I barely made it through January and the "wind left my sail."  The good news is that I had no funerals or visitations to attend this past week.  Woo Hoo!  Now, it's time to get back to work.  At this point I make no promises when I will finish this series, but hopefully, I can get back to a fairly dependable routine and find a way to touch your family.

            Today, the expression of love and kindness I would like to suggest is patience.  I admit that I chose this topic for selfish reasons because I definitely need a little mercy from you and your gift of patience as I have failed to keep up with the writing schedule I originally proposed.  One of the daily verses that come to my email inbox this week was on this very topic:

            "A person's wisdom yields patience; it is to one's glory to overlook an offense."  Proverbs 19:11 (NIV)

            As you can see here, a person's patience is not an indication of what another person deserves, but it is more of a reflection of the character of the person extending the patience.  Unfortunately, this verse also condemns me for not being very wise.  If I were a wiser person, I would extend more patience.  I do not know how I can be so painstakingly patient some days or regarding some situations but so explosive with impatience at other times. 

            This gift of patience may be easy for you to express to others with love and kindness.  Yet, it is something I have to continually choose to possess and express.  Even so, I am banking on your patience for my lack of writing for the last two weeks and for the long delay of posting the photo above.  For those who have been reading my blog, I referred to a story about this footstool on November 9, 2012—My Footstool of Memories—and said I would dig it out of the closet and post a picture of it.  I finally did it today.  Thank you for your patience.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

#14— Stepping Up to the Plate

26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1
#14— Stepping Up to the Plate

            I did not grow up in a sports family.  Our television was often found broadcasting the same types of shows over and over, but sports was not usually included in our family's line-up.  I played some park recreational basketball while in elementary school, but that was about the extent of my playing sports.  (Although I got involved with cheerleading, the pom pon squad, and martial arts, I do not consider those the same as playing—and then being able to coach—team sports.)  

            As a result, I would consider the tireless efforts of volunteer park league coaches as true acts of kindness that touch an endless number of families.  Recreational team sports have taken a toll on our family with seven children playing basketball, softball, and soccer if it is available.  However drained we might feel with the time (and money) commitment that accompanies these activities, it is not the same as if we were coaching these sports as well.

            So, here's my hat off to the coaches, score keepers, clock runners, etc., that make recreational sports possible for our community's young children.  Despite the fact that you may have gotten involved only to keep the program alive so your children could play, no family would be able to participate if you had not been willing to step up to the plate and carry some of the responsibility that make park recreational sports possible.

#13— A Little Time for a Stranger

26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1
#13— A Little Time for  a Stranger

            Sometimes an expression of kindness can simply be sharing some minutes out of your day to listen to someone else.  I had the privilege of touching someone this way (and receiving the same courtesy) just this week. 

            I made arrangements to meet with a delightful woman I was acquainted with several years ago.  She has reached a different stage in her life and had some questions for me.  (In other words, I am much older, and she wanted to talk to someone who has been there and done that.)  Conveniently, we met at a fast food restaurant about half way between our two towns. 

            Regardless whether I was of any help to her or not, I was energized and refreshed after our two-hour discussion that sped by before we knew it.  However, my emphasis is not on this discussion, but on the one that followed.  After we expressed our good-byes and I was gathering up my things, a woman from a table nearby came over to me.  "I'm sorry that I overheard part of your discussion.  I was not meaning to eavesdrop, but can I ask you some questions, too?"

            Apparently our original discussion was exactly the same topic that this woman had been discussing with a couple of her friends over the past few weeks.  Isn't it amazing how we "happened" to be sitting there together?  God knew who needed to talk to whom that day.  Well, I spent a few minutes discussing the topic on her mind, but then she went on to tell me an hour's worth of semi-related stories while her husband read the newspaper in the next booth.  This delightful woman obviously had a lot on her mind, and I will probably remember some of the things that she shared for a long time. 

            Although I had no obligation to listen to this stranger and had no promise of financial gain by doing so, my expression of kindness to listen to her ended up touching me—and my husband since I went home and shared some of her stories—and all it took was a little of my time.

#12—The Power of a Cookie

26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1
#12—The Power of a Cookie

            Traditionally, when someone passed away, neighbors, friends, church family members, and extended family members would provide meals for the family as an expression of love and kindness.  To a certain extent that is still done today, but I do not think it is as common as it used to be.  Yet, families are touched and souls are nourished by condolences expressed through food.

            I had intended to carry on this tradition with a recent loss of a family friend, but I was not sure where to take a meal.   The family was often absent from the house of the deceased to take care of related legal matters.  Therefore, I opted to provide cookies to the family.  Some of the cookies were the soft, delicious kind from the bakery section of a grocery store, and others were homemade.

            The homemade cookies came from a recipe we had received from the man we now miss.  I do not know if it is a cookie he had shared with his family or not.  I hoped it was.  I thought it might both trigger fond memories of his good cooking and exhibit some of the influence he had had on our family.  I know nothing I did to touch this family wiped away their pain, but I hope the cookies had the power to say, "Your loved one was special to us, and we miss him, too."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

#11— Burned Biscuits That Taste Like Love

26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1
#11—Burned Biscuits That Taste Like Love

            The following tips are NOT mine.  I would love to give credit to the author, but I received it in a forwarded email.  However, I thought it fit perfectly with my theme for this month, and I hope it will touch you and your family.  Enjoy.  I will add a comment of my own at the end.

            When I was a kid, my Mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work.  On that evening so long ago, my Mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad.  I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed!  Yet all my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Mom and ask me how my day was at school. I don't remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that ugly burned biscuit.  He ate every bite of that thing; never made a face nor uttered a word about it! When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my Mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits.  And I'll never forget what he said: "Honey, I love burned biscuits every now and then."

            Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, "Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she's real tired; and besides a little burned biscuit never hurt anyone!"

            As I've grown older, I've thought about that many times. Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. I'm not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone else. But what I've learned over the years is that learning to accept each other's faults and choosing to celebrate each other's differences is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship. 

            And that's my prayer for you today... that you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet of God.  Because in the end, He's the only One who will be able to give you a relationship where a burnt biscuit isn't a deal-breaker! We could extend this to any relationship. In fact, understanding is the base of any relationship, be it a husband-wife or parent-child or friendship!  So, please pass me a biscuit, and yes, the burned one will do just fine.  Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle. "Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil - it has no point"

            --Now you are back to me.  What a wonderful expression of love and kindness!  How about choosing to eat a burned biscuit this week?  What will your burned biscuit be?  Literally, a food that is less than desirable?  An inconsiderate co-worker?  Being taken for granted by your family?  If you put your "burned biscuit" in light of the above perspective, you might discover that it tastes a little like love.

#10—Kindness Isn't Always Easy or Fun

26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1
#10— Kindness Isn't Always Easy or Fun

            Have you missed me?  Sometimes a glitch in life can throw off the best of plans.  I will try to get caught up on a few expressions of love and kindness in the next few days, so I can hopefully end the month well.

            This past Friday, my husband, my 18-year old daughter, and I visited a dear neighbor in the hospital.  Over the past few years as our neighbor, he has touched my whole family and earned a special place in our hearts.  As we approached the hospital, we met a mutual friend in the parking lot, and she warned us, "If I did not know it was supposed to be him in the bed, I would not have recognized him."  This statement is very similar to one I made to my husband a couple of weeks ago, but I knew his condition had deteriorated even more rapidly since then.

            Sometimes expressing love and kindness to someone who really needs—and wants—it can be difficult.  Yet, that's where we were on Friday.  This dear man did not look like or respond the way we had become accustomed to seeing him.  Even so, he was the same worthy man that deserved to be reminded that he was loved and appreciated.  A person's outer appearance or physical condition does not determine his or her worthiness.  We were there for him.  We were there to hold his hand and remind him that he was loved.  Despite our intentions, we realistically knew that we may not receive any indication from him that he appreciated or understood our presence.  However, for one brief moment, he had complete clarity as he looked at us and clearly expressed words of thankfulness.

            We left him after a very short time, because we did not want him to keep working hard to try to be conscious for us.  At the last minute, we stopped at McDonald's for a drink (and a snack for one of us) before going home.  While there, we received a message that the hospital had begun preparing him for I.C.U. and had called in his family.  We thanked God that he allowed us to visit when we did, so we could have, what would mostly likely be, our last visit with our neighbor.

            Expressing love and kindness is not always easy or fun, but it is worth doing.  Both you and the recipient will be rewarded.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

#9—Would You Like a Smile with That?

Even the smallest of businesses
has a real person behind it.

26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1
#9—Would You Like a Smile with That?

            Have you ever worked on the employee side of a counter waiting on customers?  Maybe it was in a fast food restaurant.  Maybe it was as a retail cashier.  Maybe it was as a janitor in a busy building or a receptionist in a office.  If so, did you find days were you felt like you were treated like an object rather than a person?  How often do you do that to people who serve you in their jobs?

            To be honest, it is understandable.  We are busy.  We go to the store to get what we need.  We go to a restaurant to get food.  We do not go to find an everlasting friendship with the person who is taking our money.  However, that can happen.  Then what can you do to express love and kindness to someone you barely know and may never see again?

            How about one of these:

            1.  Smile and look at the cashier/waiter/waitress in the eye and say, "Hello.  How are you today?"  Then actually listen to the answer.

            2.  Sincerely thank this person for his/her help and wish him/her to have a good day.

            3.  If a snafu happens with your order or you have to wait longer because of a snafu with the person ahead of you, patiently wait and calmly respond, "That's o.k.  I understand.  Things do not always happen like they are suppose to."

            4.  Call the person helping you by name.  Hint:  look at his or her name tag.  If he/she is not wearing a name tag but is someone who has often helped you, ask.  "I see you here all the time, what's your first name?"  Then use his/her name that day and each time you go to that establishment in the future.

            It is simply a matter of remembering that they are not robots or an appendage of a business.  It is remembering that they, too, are people with frustrations, worries, and hopes.  They, too, want the same respect and treatment that you would like to receive. 

            So, the next time you go into a business, instead of just expecting someone to make you feel better about shopping there, plan to make an employee have a better day by expressing a little kindness.  As you are parting from your "cashier," pretend you are asking, "Would you like a smile with that?" and then give him or her huge grinning goodbye as you purposely comment, "Have a wonderful day."

#8--No Effort

Unfortunately, this isn't my doing;
it is part of Thanksgiving fixin's.
26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1
#8—No effort

            One of the favorite gifts I received when I gave birth to most of my children was a meal brought in for my whole family.  It was just what I (and my family) needed, and we all loved it.  We never knew what we were going to get, but every meal touched my family with a big helping of love and kindness.

            Consequently, one of the things I most often think about giving to other people, especially people going through a difficult time or even just an adjustment, is a meal.  However, I am ashamed to say that I rarely follow through with this grand idea.  My primary excuse is that I am not that great of a cook, and I do not want to disappoint someone.

           Even so, I have found a simple way to fulfill this plan with no (or only a little extra) effort.  That is:  just double the meal I am making for my family and deliver the extra to the family on my mind.  How easy is that?  This is very doable.  Now if only I could remember to follow through with it.  How about you?  Can you touch a family with a warm meal wrapped in love and kindness?  Will you actually do it?  Tell me about it.  Give me some inspiration to do this on a regular basis.  Once it becomes a habit, it truly will seemingly be no effort.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

#7--Short and Sweet

26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1
#7—Short and Sweet

            Sometimes we just need to keep it simple.  Touch your family and other loved ones by simply telling them--and meaning--I love you.  In person is the best way, but you can even surprise them by leaving it written somewhere to find.  I did that tonight for my daughter who is too far away tonight to tell it to in person.  Want to see it?  Look in the comment section of her December 31, 2012, blog at More Like Home.

Monday, January 7, 2013

#6—Nighttime Niceness

26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1
#6—Nighttime Niceness

            I do not know about the weather in your area, but just before Christmas we had a nasty one-day storm come through here, stranding people and touching families all over the county.  Since then we have had a couple of more snow falls, but nothing to cause us to work up a tizzy. 

            During any of these times, wouldn't it have been wonderful to walk out to a pre-shoveled sidewalk in front of the house?  What an expression of love and kindness that kind of surprise would be?!  You can bestow that kindness to your neighbor the next time it snows.  Better yet, do it at night or at a time when you know your neighbor will be gone!  This type of kindness does not have to be rewarded with a face-to-face thank you.  Knowing you eased someone else's burden can be thank you enough.

            One year we had a neighbor down the block do this for us.  We finally figured out who did it, but our family was touched by his expression of  kindness even before we knew who was responsible.  If shoveling (or snow blowing) a sidewalk does not fit into your routine, what other type of nighttime niceness can you do?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

#5—Politely Address an Irritation Before It Becomes a Problem

Blue because you don't know what to do?

26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1
#5— Politely address an irritation before it becomes a problem

            It seems that families are either touched by abrasive, in-your-face talk or quiet, seething, unspoken resentment.  Consider a balance of these two extremes as a way to express love and kindness in a family.

            Most people want to avoid confrontation.  Yet, which of the following is less confrontational? 

            1.  Expressing a concern or irritation in its early stages while you still have self-control of your temper or

            2.  Waiting until you get to the point that you cannot take it anymore and you cannot stop reciting all your complaints long enough to listen to the other person (or you get so upset with someone that you vow never to talk to or do anything with that person again without telling him or her why you are no longer a friend)

            On paper, the first way should sound like the better choice.  In practice, however, too many people choose the second method, and they do it in the name of "kindness."  They think saying "nothing" is more kind than saying something that might make someone else uncomfortable.

            Think of it this way.  If you say "nothing" to others, what are you thinking every time they repeat the "offense" that they do not realize is offensive?  Are they bad thoughts?  Does your anger grow each time?  Do you start expecting them to figure out what they are doing wrong even though you have not told them?  (such as, "Can't he figure out by now that I can't stand it when he does that?"  "Why does she keep doing that when it irritates me so?")  Are these expectations fair?

            For example, during this past year, as a result of some volunteer work I do, I had to intervene or help with the beginnings of problems.  One situation involved the behavior of a little girl.  Since she was still in the beginning stages of learning appropriate behavior and responses to the children around her and the adult leading fun time, it was much easier to talk briefly with the mom (and grandma) about what we could do to make her time in the class more enjoyable for everyone.  Letting everyone understand expectations early was much easier than waiting until she had established a pattern of verbal and physical misconduct that would be difficult to change or waiting until she had been a problem so long that her leader had run out of patience and tolerance with having her in class.  In short, a small irritation that was quickly heading towards a big problem was stopped and re-routed so that everyone involved could stay on friendly terms and enjoy (rather than dread) seeing each other.

            The key to early intervention is to approach everyone involved with love and kindness, showing you care enough to maintain a good relationship.  This approach touches both families and non-family members in a way that makes relationships stronger for the long haul.

#4—Leave Your Mail Carrier a Treat

26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1
#4— Leave Your Mail Carrier a Treat

            Although the postman's pledge might be "Neither rain, nor snow nor sleet nor gloom of night stays these couriers from their appointed rounds," that does not mean that your very human mail carrier suddenly becomes super human when he or she dons the official uniform.  In other words, sometimes it is just plain miserable to be out in the weather delivering mail, so do something very simple to put a smile on your postman.

            It can be a simple Ziplock sandwich bag with a little treat—homemade or store bought—clipped with a clothes pin to your mailbox.  Maybe you can put a pack of hot chocolate (to be used after rounds) or flavored tea bags in a decorated bag with tissue paper with a note on the outside saying it is for your postman.  If you know his or her real name, then put that on it.  Neither of these ideas may work in your situation, but hopefully it will trigger an idea that will work for you.

            It does not have to be fancy or cost much.  An unexpected, simple expression of thanks and gratitude can put a positive touch on an otherwise humdrum day and be received as a true expression of appreciation and kindness.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

#3—Don't Ask for too Many Favors

26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1
#3—Don't Ask for too Many Favors

            Although we should be more than willing to share with others (as mentioned yesterday), we should not be anxiously looking for unnecessary handouts.  This is not the same as humbly accepting help that is offered.  In fact, one way we can positively touch other families is to allow them to share with us when they may feel inspired to do.  This is different than taking on the attitude that we are entitled to receive gifts from others.

            I do not feel I am explaining myself very well.  Let me give you this example.  One year in school my assigned seat for one class was always next to a boy who never brought paper to class.  The first time he asked to borrow a piece of paper I gladly passed a piece to him.  The next day he still didn't have any paper.  He said his mom hadn't been able to go to the store, so I smiled and gave him another piece.  This continued on days the teacher did not give us worksheets.  The next week (or the week after that) I asked him when his mom was going to the store.  He told me she had bought paper, but he had forgotten it.  By this time, I grudgingly gave him paper.  Then a few times, I refused.  I suppose I refused because I thought I was being taken advantage of.  If his mom could not afford paper, the least he could do was write smaller (not big and sloppy) and carefully take care of my paper so he could take notes on the back, too.  That didn't happen.  However, I went back to giving him paper—one sheet at a time—because when I didn't, he did not take any notes (and no one else would give him paper).  This is not a very good example either.

            Let's look at it this way.  I resented his continual requests because (still being a child and not being able to see the bigger picture) I felt he was being careless and irresponsible.  I was cheerfully willing to help someone in a "pinch" even if it happened more than once, but I felt like he was not even trying to do what he needed to do to have.*  I do not want to make others feel like my requests for favors are a continual burden, so as one expression of love and kindness, my goal is to not ask for too many favors.  This way when I do ask for help the other person is touched by having a chance to reap the satisfaction of sharing with someone in a pinch and not feel like he or she is being taken advantage of.

            *I continued to give him paper the rest of the school year because I think somewhere in my conscious I knew his mom probably had not bought him paper and barely provided him with enough clothes to wear—barely.  Telling this story actually makes me feel selfish, but other stories that come to mind of people lazily taking advantage of others with their requests are too "fresh" to put into print at this time, especially when the point I am trying to make is not what others did but how I want to approach friends with my needs when they arise. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

#2—Joyfully share with your neighbor in a pinch.

26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1
#2—Joyfully share with your neighbor in a pinch.

            You might consider this a follow-up to yesterday's suggestion.  I am sure some of you reading yesterday's entry considered the possibly negative way your families would be touched if some stores either reduced their hours or closed on Sundays.

            First, realize many stores would make only minor changes if people stopped shopping on holidays or Sundays. 

            Second, consider the changes in your habits you would automatically make if you knew the stores where you shop were changing their hours.  You would make sure you got gas Saturday if you were planning on traveling on Sunday.  On Friday or Saturday, you would make sure you had snacks for the big game on Sunday.  It may not be as "convenient," but it would work, and more people—including some people you know—could watch the big game with family and friends.

            Third, we have the past that shows us limited shopping on holidays and Sundays can work.  For most of my growing-up years, the stores and gas stations in my town were closed, except for one small grocery store which was opened about four hours.  My family simply scheduled our shopping and gas purchases around those hours. 

            However, sometimes the unexpected happened or people just forgot to buy something ahead of time, which brings me to my next point.  Sometimes when we needed something and no grocery store was open, we simply had to rely on the kindness of others.  Have you ever seen in movie or read in a book that was set in the 1960's or before where the mom looks down at her youngster and says something like, "Go next door to Mrs. Leland and borrow a cup of sugar"?  Why?  The homemaker did not realize that she was low on sugar while the store was open, and it was closed when she started baking.  Did Mrs. Leland share?  Usually, yes. 

            All of those neighbors were in the same boat.  They understood the situation.  Consequently, they were all willing to joyfully share with a neighbor in a pinch.  The next time the lender might be the borrower.  Of course, borrowing also meant borrowing, so after the mom next door went shopping, the youngster would be sent back to Mrs. Leland with a cup of sugar to replenish her supply. 

            That type of compassion and sharing seems to have evaporated in today's society.  What would your reaction be if a neighbor came over and asked to borrow a cup of sugar.  I think most people would find that peculiar and wonder why the neighbor didn't just drive to the store to buy more.  Does this make us a little more selfish?  On the surface, I would say, "No," but there seems to be less of an attitude of sharing than in the past.  I could be totally wrong.  Hopefully, I am.

            Regardless, joyfully sharing with your neighbor in a pinch is a good way to express love and kindness.  Not only will that family be touched in a positive way, but yours will be, too.    

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

#1—Refrain from making purchases on holidays (or Sundays).

26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1
#1—Refrain from making purchases 
on holidays (or Sundays).

            This may surprise you as being an expression of love and kindness, but don't you want a day off?  Don't you want a day you can depend on being with your family or friends?  Of course you do, and so does everyone else.  Your shopping on a holiday touches many families by keeping some people away from home on that day.

            I am not advocating passing a law to limit business on holidays or Sundays, but we live in a capitalist society that is driven by consumers.  It is foolish for a wise businessman to pay for a full staff (or even a partial staff) to work on days when no customers walk through the doors.  After experiencing losses on a particular day, a store owner will give that day off for all or most employees.  Will that hurt business?  Of course not.  My family drinks lots of milk.  I will buy milk, just not on New Year's Day.  The store will get my business (and money) the day before or the next day.  The store's overall income will not change just because I did not purchase my milk on New Year's Day.  Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby are just two examples of many successful businesses that choose to give every employee Sundays (and many holidays) off.

            Of course, not everyone can have a holiday off.  For example, hospitals still need to care for their patients, but by not scheduling elective procedures and tests on holidays, more hospital staff members can spend holidays with loved ones.  In addition, some people say they would rather work than spend time with friends or family, but when you shop, you do not get to decide if the employees who prefer to work are the people who will be serving you.  Realistically, many people that make that type of comment do so as a way to deal with the fact they are working on a day they believe they should have off.

            Consider Thanksgiving.  It was not that long ago that nearly everyone in the United States could be with family on Thanksgiving, except for our community caretakers, such as police officers, firemen, etc.  Then the Black Friday opening times began to creep backwards.  Slowly the times reached back into the night to cause employees of major chains to cut short their Thanksgiving celebrations in order to get ready for early shoppers.  This year thousands of employees across the nation did not get Thanksgiving off at all because of shopping specials Thursday and Friday. 

            We could all say, "But I had to!  I could not pass up that deal."  I understand.  Yet, consider this.  If every consumer across the nation put aside self-centeredness (and greed) and refused to shop on holidays, do you think smart business executives would continue to be open?  Wouldn't they offer specials on different days?  Who do you think pushed the opening times back?  Consumers!  When shoppers started lining up at stores four hours before they opened, the stores said, "If they want to spend their money here that badly, let's open the doors and welcome them in!"
            Shoppers influence and direct how businesses operate.  Shoppers can use that same influence to express love and kindness to employees (who are often paid minimum wage) by refraining from making purchases on holidays and Sundays.  Those employees will still get in their much-needed hours to work, but they can work on the other days, which will then be much busier.  As a result, their families can happily be touched by the breadwinners always knowing they can spend time with their families on holidays and at least one particular day each week.