Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Every New Year's Eve, for the last 4 or 5 years, I've been trudging outside at the stroke of midnight, digging a little hole at the edge of a garden and whispering in my wishes for the new year.

It is a cultural custom, but I can't remember where it comes from. Either way, it seems symbolic and hopeful, so I've been doing it.

And, maybe because I've been particularly careful what I'm wishing for, they have all come true.


I had decided that 2011 was going to be the year I focus on our happiness.

(We've finally got stability.)

What that means, I don't know in particular, just that I want to evaluate our choices based on their direct effect on our happiness.


It's an experiment.

And I don't really see how it will be too regrettable... what with our increased happiness and all.

But how to make that into a wish?

I wished for our family to have abundant joy.

Joy is a little different from happiness, in my book.

It is a bit more of a positive outlook, less hedonistic.

And, well, my experience with the wishes is, the more altruistic the better.

But then I lay in bed thinking... how can I make that wish come true?

Abundant joy.

Other wishes, while maybe more out of my control, also gave me a goal... and working towards that may very well be 90% of the mission.

Then I thought that if I could create small moments of joy in others... well... that would bring me joy.

And maybe spread joy.

And that would be coming closer to the definition of abundant joy.

So I thought, and thought...

I thought about large grandiose gestures, and small everyday.

And then I hit on what I think is a doable, ongoing, year long mission to spread a little joy to others.

Every week I am going to give a $5 gift card to a stranger.

I thought about cash, but I think, that creates a bit more awkwardness.

Once a week, when I'm at a store I'll get a $5 giftcard to that store, and then Kid and I (she's very excited about this) will decided who to hand it to.

"How will we know if they need it?" Kid asked.

"Well, I thought about that last night, we won't. Just because someone doesn't need the $5 doesn't mean they don't need something unexpected to happen to them. Maybe if there is a rich looking lady in line at the Starbucks in Target and we give her the $5, she'll be touched by it, and then in turn go over and pay for an entire person's cartful of stuff at the checkout, which we couldn't do." I explain.

It isn't about saving the world, or making the best possible choice for how to give $5. When looking through that frame, it becomes impossible to carryout. It is simply about giving a small unexpected moment, of befuddlement, surprise... possibly joy.

And then maybe it spreads.

I know, I can still remember EVERY time something like this has happened to me, and it did change me, and make me want to return the favor, in what way I could.

But, maybe, it doesn't... and it's just $5 that stops with that one person.

And that is okay too. Because, the surprise, the giving, it will still bring me joy.

And it will be something that Kid will remember for the rest of her life.

One year, when she was 8, her mom gave away $5 to a stranger every week.

That will change her.

And it'll be worth every penny.


Julie said...

I love this.

I have decided that I will dedicate a word for the year. It may be patience, perseverance, peace. Maybe it is all of them. Maybe it is the Letter P ;). My dedication is to get some peace for my family. My heart and head have been so full lately--of sadness,frustration, but also of gratitude. Conflicting,huh. Thankfully, I have a wicked sense of humor so there's lots of laughter mixed in with my tears.

Your gesture will touch more people than you know. Obviously it is not just about the 5 bucks. You will be spreading kindness, reaching out, making this big world a smaller place.

Much love to you and your family this new year.

Lori said...

What a fantastic idea! I have been away for awhile, and I have missed you and your posts. That is a wonderful perspective and you have inspired me to do the same!
Thanks Mrs. Furious. May you all have a Wonderful, Joyous New Year. May all your wishes come true.

Torey said...

Oh! I can't wait to see your posts about this! How exciting!

And the thought of how Kid will view this whole experiment is so amazing. You're the coolest woman I know, I mean that!

Happy New Year! Enjoy your JOY!

thecoolestwifeever said...

That is such an awesome thing to do. $5 surely wouldn't break anyone's budget a week - but it just might make a lot of people's day! You rock Mrs. F!

HC said...

What a wonderful idea! I remember those moments when a stranger has given me something out of the blue, be it a gesture of kindness, a little extra patience, a small gift -- they don't mean more than what our loved ones give us, but they do seem somehow more potent with joy. I don't know how to explain potent with joy, but you know what I mean. :)

Golden To Silver Val said...

Every once in a while I would pay for the order of the person behind me at the drive-thru in the morning. I know that every time I did it, it made ME feel so wonderful all day long. I know it just had to make the recipient feel good....even if it was only coffee and a muffin. I think your idea is terrific and such a memorable learning tool for kid. Talk about warm memories! She's gonna have them for sure. Good job, Mom.

Kiki said...

Love. This.

I think is going to be an awesome experiment and I'm kind of psyched that it is YOU that got the iPhone because I was thinking that it was Mr. F!!!

Mr Furious said...


We'd been needing to replace our Asheville-based cells since moving, and we'd toyed with the idea of getting iPhones... Then I got an iPhone form work in November.

Mrs. F clearly took a shine to it, so she got one in her stocking.

Amy said...

Yo. You have to read my 12/28 post about random giving. Seriously.

Deb said...

Hmm...I think I'll be sharing your post link to our Facebook project page and blog later this week:


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