Do you believe in Christmas angels? They’re all around us. Sadly, we’re usually too busy to notice them, but just because they go unseen doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
I’m certain you’ve encountered a retail angel. They’re the people working seasonal hours (a.k.a. late nights, early mornings, and extra shifts on the weekend) so that the rest of us can scurry into a store late at night and pick up the last few things we need in order to check a few names off of our list. Listening to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on loop would test the sanity of even her most passionate fan. Sometimes you can spot them wrestling the mannequin on display, trying to get that last red sweater in a size medium for the customer who decides not to buy it anyway—never dropping their smile.
Speaking of cheerfulness… Have you noticed those poor, battered angels manning the customer service desks? My heart goes out to them in a tender way because they already deal with unhappy people on the regular. Mix in the stresses that everyone feels over the holidays and their work ends up feeling more like negotiating with terrorists than helping people—either way, a fruitless effort.
Surely you’ve seen the food industry angel running around on their feet all night while you dine in because you’re too exhausted to even think about cooking. I’m sure they wish they could sit down and eat a real meal instead of just smelling them all night—and far beyond that because no matter how many times they wash their hair those lovely aromas just linger.
…just because they go unseen doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Most of the time we’re hoping to avoid the public service angels—the police, firefighters, healthcare workers—because if we do run into them it’s usually due to an unfortunate event. However, these people are employed for the greater good of society, and we are so grateful they’re available in the moment when we need them—any time of any day (even holidays). Yet because they’re available to us, they’re oftentimes unavailable for their own loved ones.
The list goes on and on of people working, serving, and sacrificing to help make the holidays happen, or keeping us safe in the midst of them because let’s face it—Santa can’t do it all.
I did a little research and polled friends and family who work these arenas to ask what makes them feel appreciated…what keeps them from turning in their halo and wings to throw on an angry elf hat? Because they have holiday stresses too. They have presents to buy, lists to check off, relatives to pick up from the airport, and holiday parties to attend as well. This is what they said…
If you want to show your appreciation to those who make the holidays happen, do these things:
- Offer a kind word in a stressful situation. “You are doing a great job with this line of people, thank you.”
- Be graceful. Overlook the moments when their stress does get the best of them.
- Say something applicable to your encounter. “Thank you for helping me find that. I thought that I would have to spend a lot more time looking for it. You made my day.”
- Extend an invitation to your holiday celebrations to the people who would otherwise be alone while their loved one works.
- Show appreciation for good customer service. “Now I understand. Thank you for taking the time to explain it to me.”
- Remember: most of the people enforcing the rules did not make them; don’t make the issue you’re facing personal.
- Be polite. Put your phone away and look them in the eyes while they serve you.
- Find a way to recognize those who go unseen. Leave a basket of refreshments with a thank you note on your doorstep for the people delivering all of your Amazon Prime purchases.
- Acknowledge their sacrifice. “I hope that you have a wonderful holiday, whenever you get a chance to celebrate.”
- Don’t make managerial suggestions to a busy worker.
- Value their time. “I so appreciate that you are open extended hours, this is the first chance that I’ve had to get away.”
- Be respectful. Don’t wander into their place of work 5 minutes before closing time or loiter around while they’re cleaning up so they can get home. Remember they have a family too.
- Make their day. Drop off some real food to their place of employment. They’re probably running off coffee and candy.
Taking the time to say or do something personal, encouraging, or kind to a stranger may push you out of your comfort zone—but I guarantee your doing so will be an unexpected highlight of their day. Who knows, if you do a few of these things, you might just become their Christmas angel.
…what keeps them from turning in their halo and wings to throw on an angry elf hat?
You’ll also like ‘Tis the Season to Feel (Really) Single, 13 Affordable Christmas Presents That You’ll Want to Keep!, 7 Organizations to Support (That Might Help You Complete Your Gift List), This Is What Moms Think While Christmas Shopping…, and How to Stay Classy at the Drunken Work Christmas Party
Be sure to listen to our podcast, Surviving the Holidays with Grit and Grace, to hear what Darlene and Julie have to say about this special, yet chaotic, season!