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Today I will be making snowman cupcakes, brownies shaped like Christmas trees, reindeer cookies, and star and angel shaped mints. The ingredients for these holiday treats are just a few of the things my husband and I have purchased lately. We also bought craft supplies to make 16 coworkers holiday gifts (just something small), stocking stuffers for each other and for my parents, and ingredients for my husband to make his annual 100 mini loaves of banana bread for the homeless. Of course while we were out, we picked up a few things for the house and for ourselves.

That is a lot of shopping. I think it is accurate to say that is at least 10 times more shopping than we do most other months of the year. During this time of year, when I am checking out at a store, I always ask the cashier, “Are you super busy today?” Of course, they almost always say, “Yes.” Then I ask them, “Are people being nice to you?”  They usually tell me that people are being nice to them. Then I say, “Because people can be rude this time of year when they are looking for sales, spending so much money, hurrying to this party or that one.” Then they usually open up and tell me about how rude and mean some customers are to them.

I know it doesn’t seem like much to remember to be nice to the people who work in shops, malls, grocery stores this time of year. But it could make a difference for someone who may be struggling with seasonal depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. This is the busiest time of year for anyone working in retail. People with retail jobs are probably working long hours, dealing with every kind of person imaginable, and they are told to keep their cool, and keep a smile on their face. It cannot be easy to provide good customer service to everyone who walks through the door. And of course one in four of them are struggling with a mental illness, and many of them have other chronic illnesses.

It is hard to get out of bed every day. It is even harder to get out of bed, get yourself ready and go to a job. It is tough to put in 4-10 hours. It gets harder still when your job is dealing with the public. It gets more difficult still, when that public can be grumpy or rude because there are longer lines than normal, gifts are expensive, shops are crowded, some items they want may sell out, they may not have the money to spend but they feel they have to.

I know it is the season of giving and people do remarkable things for one another this time of year. I know there is more generosity and kindness in the air than at any other time or season. I also believe there is some magic to be experienced. But at the same time, people can forget that wonderful spirit when they walk into a store and start shopping. I’m just asking that we remember those people who work their tails off during the holidays and extend some of the wonder to them and joy to them.

If you believe our actions send out ripples into the world then start a chain reaction of kindness, compassion, peace and love – imagine how many people retail workers see every day and how many people they can pass the ripple onto. You may be the one who starts the ripple that changes a life or lives. We have the power to make the world better, let’s use it.