Santa HatCredit: Theresa Knott; Public Domain; Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Theresa Knott; Public Domain; Wikimedia Commons
Random Acts of Kindness
One of the most pleasant things associated with the Christmas holiday is the feeling of "good will to men." It's a time when many of us open our hearts and become a little friendlier, a little nicer --even to people we hardly know.
The idea for secret Santas embraces those special feelings and takes them one step further: To give anonymously to someone else, often someone in a poor financial situation for whatever reason. The person or persons chosen to receive your generosity may be a family down the block, the mother struggling to find money to buy even second-hand gifts for her children or a person that has no family from whom to receive gifts.
Your heart will dictate what you will do and the people you choose with whom to share the Christmas spirit. Such activity may become a highlight of the season for you.
The Official Group of Secret Santa: Secret Santa World
Larry Dean Stewart was the original Secret Santa. For twenty years, Stewart went about performing random acts of kindness during the Christmas season anonymously. Stewart passed on in 2007, succumbing to cancer, but not before hundreds of others became Secret Santas and ELFs.
These generous individuals give $100 bills to all sorts of folks around the country, spreading joy and hope to the recipients.
Secret Santa World is the only official group begun by Larry Dean Stewart. The site explains that Secret Santas and ELFs share these characteristics:
- They value anonymity, both for themselves and other Secret Santas.
- They would rather lose all their money than their sense of humor
- They "walk the walk," not just "talk the talk"
- They do not report their Secret Santa givings to the IRS as tax deductions
- They never ask for donations
- They share their gifts in a humble, selfless manner
I've known community-minded organizations who pool resources so that one or more of their members is able to go out into the community to do the same thing Secret Santas do, but I don't know if they are officially Secret Santas. The truth is, it doesn't matter to the recipients of their generosity or if these Secret Santas maintain the characteristics of the official group.
Santa and Child with HorsesCredit: Silar; Creative Commons; Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Silar; Creative Commons; Wikimedia Commons
Become Your Own Kind of Secret Santa
You don't have the means to give out $100 bills, you say? Lots of us don't, but we can find other ways to share the spirit of Christmas with others.
Many years ago when my kids and I were going through a rough personal episode, I opened my desk drawer one day at work. Someone had left a $100 bill there. I asked each and every co-worker, but none would 'fess up to putting it there. It warmed my heart more than I can tell you -- not just because now I would be able to buy my kids a few Christmas gifts, but because someone cared so much about our situation to give very generously of themself.
If you belong to a church or organization, you are likely to know someone who will be alone for the holidays. Why not invite them to your home? Just a few hours in the company of caring people and perhaps a Christmas meal would likely mean so much to such a person.
Perhaps you know someone in a nursing home or home bound who won't be putting up any Christmas decorations. Imagine their surprise when you bring decorations hand-made by the kids or show up to Christmas carol.
The ability to give someone money at Christmas is wonderful, but many of us find ourselves cash-strapped. I am willing to wager that thoughful random acts of kindness like the ones above -- and so many others -- would make a world of difference in someone's life.