Every year for the past four years, I’ve made an assortment of Christmas treats, packaged them in cute bags or boxes, and delivered them to unexpecting friends around town. For three of those years, I had help from three different friends (the first year was three of us, then two of us, then just me, then two). The reason I started doing this is that I LOVE to bake, and I love surprising people with a little act of kindness. I love seeing their faces when they open the door and see someone standing there with a box of homemade goodies just for them. I love brightening people’s days, and this is just a fun way to do it. This year, I planned to make my jar cakes. Every time I’ve made these for people, they have absolutely loved them, so I thought this would be a fun way to tweak my annual tradition, straying away from the usual cookies and candies. However, this year I decided I wasn’t going to do anything. Many might think that is because of COVID, however the current pandemic had no effect on my decisions.
Making these goody bags or boxes takes a ton of time and effort. I usually spend about two full days making and packaging everything. The cost is usually about $60 total for ingredients and packaging supplies. Usually, I make three different kinds of cookies, pretzel wreaths, toffee, and almond bark pretzels. Sometimes I add other things, depending on what I’m feeling that particular year. I then drive all over town for about 1-2 hours to deliver the boxes of treats, making about 15 stops. Every year I’ve done this, the weather and roads have not been optimal conditions. But what made me decide to stop doing this wasn’t the time or the effort. It wasn’t the money, although that is extra tight for me this year, and it certainly wasn’t the driving conditions. What made me decide to stop this year is the sheer unappreciativeness I received last year.
Things I heard last year while delivering goodies or in the week after include “Thanks for the treats. Now you can leave,” “I ate one kind of cookie and threw the rest away,” and “The sugar cookie on top was hard, so they all went in the garbage.” The fact that people can be so utterly ungrateful sickens me. When someone goes completely out of their way to do something nice for you, the last thing you should be is cruel. Those things made me feel awful and hurt last year, and I decided I am not going to subject myself to it again.
I’m not writing this to make you feel sorry for me. I’m writing this because I want others to be aware that the things they say in response to gifts, no matter the content of the gift itself, matters. Don’t tell people something they gave you was useless or that you threw it away. If you really don’t like something you’re given as a gift, LIE! Or just say “That was a really nice gesture,” or “That was so thoughtful of you.” Don’t make people bad for delivering you a gift and tell them to “get out” or “leave.” They are going out of their way to do something nice for you- not trying to impose on you. If you truly want to get rid of the person, just say “Thank you so much for this, but it’s not a great time,” or “This is so nice of you, let’s catch up later this week.” The key here is to just be polite.
For many, myself included, Christmas is a hard time of year. Money becomes an even bigger issue than usual for most. People are super busy and others feel stings of loss and loneliness more than ever. So, when someone goes out of their way to do something nice for you, be kind. Be grateful and appreciative. Don’t be rude or cruel. This year has been especially hard for a lot of people for many different reasons, so be a little kinder than usual this holiday season. Keep the snarkiness out of your thank yous and appreciate the people who go out of their way to show you they care.