It is my favorite time of year right now. Yes, the air is crisp, the leaves have changed colors, and daylight savings has officially taken over. But that’s not why this is my favorite time of year.

You see, something changes in people once we cross that line into November, and that change takes over the closer we get to December. Once we hit day one of December, the spirit of the holidays are in full effect, and that is what I LOVE about this time of year!

I love the joy, the smiles, the laughter, the family togetherness, and the kindness that takes over people. I wish so much that it could be like this all year long instead of people reserving their “best” for the holidays. But for these couple of months, at the end of the year, I will take it!

But just in case the holiday spirit hasn’t warmed you up quite yet, here are five ways to share the love this holiday season.

Write thank you notes

When was the last time you sent out a gift to receive a thank you note within the week or two that followed? When I was little, my mother impressed upon us girls the importance of showing gratitude, especially to those who took time out of their busy lives to send a gift for any occasion. Thank you notes were a big thing, and it was always the first thing we did after receiving a gift. Yet, this tradition is a lost art. Something that is not passed on to our children anymore, and that saddens me. While I am not the best at continuing this trend, it is something I work on diligently, and try earnestly to pass on to our daughter.

Pay It Forward

Have you ever pulled up to the drive thru of some place, oh, let’s say, Starbucks, only to find that the person in the car ahead of you has paid for your order? Did you carry on that act of kindness and pay for the car behind you? It is an amazing feeling to be the receiver of a gift like that, and you would be absolutely surprised at how quickly one small gesture of kindness can turn someone’s day around.

Bake

This one may seem a bit silly. As a child, my family had bake days during the holidays. My mom and her sisters would all gather together at one person’s house, usually ours, and they would each bake a different holiday treat. Whether it was cookies, brownies, or fudge, the five of them would take over our huge kitchen and table with all their bowls, ingredients, and, eventually, fresh baked goodies! They would divvy up all the deliciousness, and each sister took home five different goodies to enjoy with their families. While our families are spread out across the states, I still enjoy baking during the holidays, and taking some to our neighbors. Have you ever seen the smile that crawls upon a person’s face when they receive baked goodies during the holidays?? Try it and see!

Volunteer

During the holidays, there are so many opportunities for charitable acts. From dropping loose change in the Salvation Army red buckets, to buying a toy for the Toys for Tots bins. But to volunteer your time takes things to new heights. There is something humbling about sharing your time with others. Whether it is volunteering for a soup kitchen, spending time at a local nursing home, or taking stuffed animals to a local children’s hospital, when you take time out of your schedule to be with someone who may not have loved ones to share the holidays with, your heart is warmed. It is a gentle reminder of the blessings in your life, and the opportunity to bestow a blessing upon someone else.

Be Kind

Seems like an easy one, doesn’t it? But sometimes, within the hustle and bustle of the end of the year, we get overwhelmed, maybe a little stressed, and things get a little hectic. We’re out shopping, can’t find what we’re looking for, only to lose our cool and realize whatever we were searching for was right in front of our eyes. I get it. But I will never forget one Christmas Eve when I was working retail, and a customer, in the last five minutes of the store being open, ran inside, and all I could think was, Great! There goes getting off on time tonight! Much to my surprise, with two minutes to spare, this woman comes running up to the register, and drops her handful of items on the checkout belt. I smiled and asked her if she had found everything she was looking for, and her response shocked me. “Yes, Yes, I did! You have no idea how grateful I am that you guys were still open! You were my last resort! I didn’t think I was going to make it inside in time, and I was sure I was going to be told you were closing as I tried to run in. I know you had no control over working on a holiday, and I am sure you would much rather be home with your family right now, but you have no idea how grateful I am that you are here, and that you are open.” What did she need in such a hurry? Baby medicine, a humidifier, formula, and Pedialyte. In that moment, while I would have much rather been anywhere else but there, I was grateful I was there, too

So while you are out there over the next couple of months, going about your business and sharing your time with your family, don’t forget these simple ways to share the love this holiday season. It is easy to get caught up in all the festivities at the end of the year. But you truly never know how much one simple act can impact another.