Ever since the election I’ve become acutely aware of how mean we can be to each other on a daily basis. In addition to the displays of hate we’ve all seen on the news, I’ve heard countless stories of heated interpersonal conflict stemming from our political situation. Old “friends” sending each other vitriolic text messages; family members vowing never to speak again. These small cruelties erode our national morale just as surely as the big injustices, making our quiet, moment-to-moment stand for love and generosity just as critical as our grand heroic acts. The holidays certainly aren’t the only time of year to stay mindful of how we treat others, but during this hectic season even the smallest gesture can be extra impactful. So here are 15 ways I’ve thought of to practice kindness this Thanksgiving and beyond—I’d love for you to add your own in the comments!
If You’re Staying Home for Thanksgiving
1. For each person gathered at your table, make a list of reasons you love them. Use the lists instead of place cards.
2. Bake and take extra dessert to someone who makes your everyday routine brighter: your Starbucks barista, your office receptionist, your dog walker.
3. Write a note of gratitude and slip it in your neighbor’s mailbox. Thank them for making your block a happier, more pleasant place to live!
4. Give your pets an extra long and luxurious brushing. Make them wriggle with delight!
5. Schedule downtime with yourself as a break from the hullabaloo. Attend a yoga class, read a magazine at a coffee shop, take a midday nap!
If You’re On the Road for Thanksgiving
6. Buy a coffee for the harried airport employee at your check-in gate.
7. Offer to trade your aisle seat to the person who’s clearly uncomfortable sitting in the middle.
8. Entertain that energetic toddler running around the plane so his mom can relax.
9. Strike up a detailed conversation with the gas station attendant. Learn his name, his kids’ names, and how he will be celebrating Thanksgiving this year. Really, truly see him.
10. Put $30 on Pump 3 so that the next person who drives up to it gets a free tank of gas.
No Matter Where You Are
11. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Take ownership for the disconnect in the relationship and get the download on what they’ve been up to since you last touched base.
12. Make sandwiches from your leftovers and offer them to the homeless couple panhandling on the freeway offramp; bring extra turkey for their dog.
13. Research volunteer opportunities in your hometown for a cause that’s close to your heart. Sign up to donate your time in December before the hectic season truly sits in. (While you’re at it, sign up for January too!)
14. Leave a space cleaner than you found it: a public washroom, a park, your mom’s kitchen.
15. Smile and maintain eye contact with everyone you encounter.
I’m taking tomorrow off but will be back Friday with our usually scheduled programming. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of all your faves: friends, family, food, and festive fun!