I will freely admit it: I am a social media junkie. Although I am working to curtail my presence on the various social media sites, I find myself perusing them for inspiration with my meals. Some of the best memes I share with others on my Facebook group: Coffee on my Porch. Have you joined the group yet? Here’s the link.
This morning, I came across an interesting post question: “What would you like to receive as an inexpensive “gift” that would make your day?”
It got me thinking about May Day (May 1st) when I was in kindergarten. For art class one of the last days in April, Mrs. Highland (my kindergarten teacher) told us about the custom of making May baskets and hanging them on people’s doors. (What she didn’t tell us was that you were supposed to ring the doorbell and run so the person didn’t know who had hung the basket.) We used bright colored construction paper and paint to create a paper May basket. When I got home, I cut off a few of the lilacs from the back corner of our yard, stuffed them into the basket, and hung it on our neighbor’s front door. I don’t remember their reaction or if they even knew I had hung the basket on the door, but I believed that the basket brought a bit of sunshine into their home.
That was over 50 years ago. Today, it seems that most people are in far too much of a hurry or far too busy to think about bringing a bit of sunshine to someone’s day, but maybe the COVID lock-downs have shown some people that humans need to be connected to other humans. It’s one thing to think about someone and wonder how they are doing; it’s another to stop for a moment and act on that thought.
I was surprised at the number of materialistic things people thought would be a good “gift,” and the number of things that are truly too expensive for most of us to give on a whim. Some suggested being treated to dinner, others thought that a weekend away would be a good “gift.”
There are so many ways, however, that we can make someone’s day without spending money that we might not have. Showing people you are thinking about them can build or strengthen our relationship with that person whether they are your spouse, your significant other, your child, or your friend.
In fact, a Rice Krispies’ commercial shows just what a difference a short note from a parent can have on a child. (Haven’t seen it. Check it out here.)
Here are some ways you can bring sunshine to someone’s day:
Send something through snail mail: Too often, we only receive bills/statements and advertising materials in the snail mailbox. It usually takes a special day, Christmas or our birthday, to find a few cards in the snail mailbox. I like the surprise of a random card in my snail mailbox that says, “Hi, How are you doing?” or “I was thinking about you. How are you doing?”
What should you send?
A homemade card: You might be the crafter who has all the best stuff to make cards with or you might be the person who has a single piece of blank paper. I’ve been going through all the boxes of stuff that have accumulated over the years. I’ve found many cards that I made for my mom, dad, or grandparents; I’ve found the cards that my children made at school for Mother’s Day and Christmas. The best cards are the best because someone took the time to make the card.
Purchased card: There are so many cute cards out there that can be purchased for a buck, even cheaper if you purchase a box of “blank” cards and write your own brief personal message.
Sending postcards: This is really a lost opportunity. Several years ago, I took part in a postcard swap associated with National Novel Writing Month. I sent out 20 postcards and received 20 in return from around the world.
Writing a letter: We take time to text each other. We take time to post a happy birthday to someone’s social media wall. Why not take a bit more effort and write a letter to a few people?
Send a small package: I’m usually on vacation when I find that “just right” item to send someone. Sometimes I keep it until their birthday or Christmas, but sometimes I just drop it in the mail. I’ve received packages like that too. It’s a wonderful bit of sunshine in an otherwise monotonous stream of snail mail.
Don’t have the extra money to send a card? I get it. Sometimes my check barely covers the bills, and I find I am counting pennies until the end of the month. Here are a couple of options that can add a bit of sunshine to someone’s day.
Make a phone call: With friends and relatives, I am grateful for the advances technology has made in terms of the telephone. Even after I had graduated college, gotten married, and had my two sons, if I wanted to talk to anyone outside my city limits, I paid long-distance fees. Now, with cell phones, there is no long-distance coast to coast and border to border. Yes, if you are calling someone outside the continental United States, you will pay extra. I remember carefully planning, through letters, to call one of my close friends who had moved to New Jersey. “Will you be home at a specific time on a specific day? I want to call you.” Then, when the time came, the call was placed and the timer set. When the time was over, you said goodbye and started planning the next conversation.
Today, it is much easier to call. Make that phone call.
You may not think that making a phone call can turn someone’s day around, but I’d like to assure you that it can, especially for people who live alone. Really what it is is the gift of time and the gift of connection.
A single flower stem or small bunch from your garden: And the fistful of dandelions from a child always have the potential to warm the heart.
But don’t stop there. A smile at someone, unknown, in passing, might bring that sunshine. A compliment in the elevator: Gee, I like your shoes. A wave at the drivers in your neighborhood as you pass them.