This time of year can be difficult for many; for a lot of reasons. Some people will be dealing with their first holidays after the loss of a loved one. Some people will be financially stressed. Some people will be battling an illness. Some people will be working on troubled relationships. Most everyone is dealing with 'something', but most people will try to keep their troubles and stresses covered and to themselves.
It should be the season of hope, of families, of good will, and of miracles. Yet, many will be overcome by the commercialism of the season, the self-imposed stress of wanting to buy and give too much, some sleepless nights, and the To Do lists that require writing on the back side of the paper. Many people will have long overdue lunches with friends they haven't seen, many will rush in traffic, and many will become short-tempered for no good reason. Some will treat the wait staff and the department store cashiers well and others unfortunately will not.
Before you accuse a seasonal worker of not being 'fast enough' or 'friendly enough', stop for a moment and put yourself in their shoes. They may be taking on extra seasonal work to help make ends meet. They may have already put in a 10 hour day on their feet trying to help crabby customers. The transmission on their car may have gone out that morning. They MAY be doing a great job and the attitude adjustment needed isn't theirs, but YOURS.
Someone read a devotion in a staff meeting the other day about how 'hurt people hurt'. This analogy works all year long, not just during the busy holiday times. If you run across a cashier or waiter or mechanic or postman (or whatever profession) who seems to be having a frazzled day, stop yourself before you react with judgment or a criticism. Stop and find out their story. Ask them about their day. Tell them you appreciate their work and their effort. You have the ability with a few words to turn their day around. Sometimes it is even the other way around. YOU could be the one having the bad day and some one's kind words and a smile turn you around.
Grace is a beautiful thing. It can be life-changing AND it costs you nothing. Often times, it is easier to show kindness and grace to a stranger, rather than a family member or friend. I'm not sure why that is, other than perhaps we are too connected to the situation to be as objective.
As the holiday season gets further underway, make the most of it. Be the one who holds the door open for a stranger, the one that says thank you, the one who lets the person with only one item in front of you at the check out line, or gives the tired waitress an extra $5 in her tip. You have the ability to make this holiday season one filled with positiveness, kindness, generosity, and good cheer.