Column: Keep karma in mind for the holidays

Earlier this week I was waiting in line to get my daily caffeine fix at a local coffee shop.

’Tis the season to be jolly. Or is it?

Earlier this week I was waiting in line to get my daily caffeine fix at a local coffee shop. The woman in front of me was on the phone and didn’t bother to hang up while she was ordering from the young girl at the till.

Not only that, she was snippy and rude when she confirmed her order, as if she didn’t have time to ensure her multiple request of non-fat, half-sweet, extra-hot, no-whip coffee was heard correctly by the server.

I know this mustn’t be an unusual situation. In fact, I know from experience working in food service and, more recently, the retail industry, that people can be nasty. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it once or twice myself. Sometimes we’re in a rush, or something else bad has happened that day to put us in a negative state of mind.

But what made me really take notice of this woman’s less-than-appropriate behaviour was the juxtaposition of all things festive around me. Apart from the grumpy woman, everything else was so cheery. The holiday music playing in the background, the Christmas lights shining around the windows.

Right down to the young cashier’s exceptionally polite demeanour dealing with the Coffee Grinch, the warm feeling of the season was all around.

As I walked back to the office I wondered, even with masses of holiday cheer all around for the month of December, does the holiday season make the majority of people jolly? Or has it become a time of year where everyone is at risk of turning various shades of green as they slowly morph into the Grinch?

I have always been a strong believer in the mantra that you get what you give. In recent months, I have seen this among people I am close to, or have been. The people who had a tough few months (or years) were finally rewarded with something fabulous in their lives, while the ones who worked hard to build bad karma, well, let’s just say they got what they deserved.

Whether it’s the pressure of holiday shopping, or the commitments to attend seasonal parties, dinners and get-togethers, this can be an extremely stressful time of year. But it’s also a time when it’s important to be thankful for what you have and considerate of those around you, no matter what the circumstances.

With the new year fast approaching, my friends and I have decided to make a concerted effort to consider our karma. There are plenty of ways to bank the good stuff, including something as simple as giving the server at the coffee shop the respect they deserve.

During the rush of the holiday season I’ve come across plenty of people who are banking good karma by contributing in larger ways to their community.

There’s a huge Secret Santa: Toys for Tots campaign happening on the Saanich Peninsula, and a group of individuals are coming together once again to put on a full Christmas dinner spread in Sidney for those who might otherwise go without.

Peninsula residents have also been dropping off spare change at the News Review office. So far we’ve collected more than $2,000 with our Coins for Kids campaign, the proceeds of which will go to the Toys for Tots program before Christmas.

As I said, not all good deeds have to be monumental. Karma-builders can also be simple.

Next time you’re at the bank, hold the door for someone, or when you exchange glances with a stranger while finishing up your last-minute Christmas shopping, share a quick smile.

Most of all – like the cheery young girl serving the grumpy lady in the coffee shop – remember to not let the Grinches get you down.

– Devon MacKenzie is a reporter for the Peninsula News Review.

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