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An Anonymous Elf + Brighten It Up + Stay Out of Those Places

Good Morning from Warren Grove, Prince Edward Island
Tis the time of year to be thinking of others. It is the time of year of good intentions. It is the time of year to be grateful. The main reason is to celebrate the Reason for the Season.
Anytime of year can be a joy to try and brighten someone’s day, week, or life. Whether it is family or friends or strangers. It has such a boomerang effect. Do you feel sad? I have read that when you feel sad, do something to make someone glad. The boomerang effect kicks in and sadness reduces or disappears. I need to try it more often. And need to remember to keep doing it. Especially fun when done anonymously.
One of the blog readers shared a Christmas tradition she has done for twenty years.  Before posting her message to me, I asked permission. She blessed me with a yes. For privacy reasons she requested I not share her name or the place where she does this. Let’s say it is somewhere in rural Canada, and it is.
“Most people want to hear or tell a good story. But they don’t realize they can and should be a good story. That requires intentional living.”
~ John C. Maxwell
​​Christmas Comes Early
I live in a small town in Canada and have for over 30 years now. I was born and raised in a large city as was my husband. We are both outdoors people. And soon after starting our family realized that we wanted to raise our kids in a rural environment. We chose a small village with a strong agricultural base.
When you live in a large city, tragedy is all around you on a daily basis. You listen to stories on the news or read the headlines and are saddened by what people are experiencing daily. You feel heartbroken. You may donate to a Go Fund Me or choose some other way to acknowledge the incident, but you remain disconnected. In a rural area, this changes dramatically. You hear the news and either know the family or know of the family and are compelled to offer hands-on help. This connection to the community got me thinking…I wonder how these people are doing 6 months or so down the road. Their story tends to fade into history and we assume that all has worked out for the best, often not hearing the full details of what they may have endured.
I keep these individuals in mind all year and around mid-November, I choose one person and make up a Christmas-themed personal basket for them. I collect items year-round that I think will go well in a basket. Usually, I include a special mug and tea, a small fleece blanket, some chocolates, a book and maybe a candle or Christmas decoration. Sometimes I throw in mitts and socks, whatever I come across in my travels. I try to tailor a couple of items to the individual.
Around the end of November I have a random person deliver it to their door with only a “Merry Christmas from an anonymous elf”:
Over the 20 year span of doing this only about 5 people have “sourced” me out. Their reaction to this small token is always overwhelming. All agreed that it was extremely heartwarming to think that a virtual stranger would go to such lengths to acknowledge their struggles. I truly think that the basket says to them “I see you, I feel what you’ve been through and you are not alone”. A kind of acknowledgment of their strength. The very best part though is that all 5 who found me asked if they could “steal” my tradition and do baskets of their own. Hence, they continue to pay it forward every year.
I absolutely will continue this for as long as I can for the sheer joy it brings to me. One elderly lady calls me every November 30th, the date she received her basket several years ago. She lets me know she has dug out the snuggly blanket and her special mug and that she’s thinking of me. Cute huh?
Who knew that such a small act could bring so much warmth to people’s hearts and so much joy to mine! Imagine this world if we all set out to perform one single random act of kindness each day....oh what a change we could bring!
Below is a copy of the verse that I include in the anonymous basket. It changes a little each year to suit the recipient.
Christmas 2021
This basket is a Christmas tradition of mine
I’ve been doing it for 20 odd years
It comes with only one stipulation
You have to promise to shed no tears
This random gift is to remind you that Christmas
Are a time of joy and peace and bliss
Whoever started all this Amazon ordering
And shopping from organized lists?
I think true gifts should always be surprises
Well thought out and straight from the heart
Presented to people who enhance others lives
And you _________ sure do your part
Life will always present us with struggles,
Obstacles we strive to overcome
I think you have surmounted many
So this is for you _________….just for fun.
I’m sure, as I do, you hear the bells ring
Long before anyone else is aware
So now is your time to take a moment
Relax and let down your hair
Know that you’re appreciated by many
As one of the lucky few
With the strength, determination and stamina
To see Christmas magic come true
So feet up kid, open me and enjoy
Go ahead let yourself indulge
We have all those dreary winter months
To worry about “After Christmas bulge!”
Never stop spreading your holiday magic
It’s appreciated far and wide
Open me now…I’m not to be kept till Christmas
And enjoy all the treasures inside!
Merry Christmas
An Anonymous Elf
I am pleased she allowed me to share her story with you today. I believe her hope is for others to pick up the tradition and add it to their annual giving intentions.
"The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention." ~ John Burroughs
Over twenty years ago, our kitchen staff started to put a dollar in a cup every time they had a soda pop from the company fridge. Come Christmas season Shirley and I match the total in their cups. Every year near a thousand dollars in raised. The staff decide who the money or purchased gifts go to and give anonymously. We love the tradition our staff started.
“Over time, even the tiniest meaningful actions add up, each one bringing you closer to a life that is truer to your dreams and free of regret.”
~ Jane McGonigal

I had mentioned last week my love for choral music this time of year. Another reader was so kind to send me information about a choir their two daughters enjoy being in. Intrigued and inspired by the vision and the mission of this organization, I share it below.

Stile Atico is a choir whose music while listening to has brought me much peace this week.

I hope you enjoy this superb expression of musical artistry, delivered by this ensemble of talented singers.


If you have the chance, take a peak at Katherine's posting this week. We thank the folks at RED magazine for sharing the story of Evelyn.

Also, take a mouthwatering look at Adrienne's recipe blog this week. 

Preserve Company Strawberry S'mores Tart

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead and hope you find some inspiration within the words shared today.
May joy be your constant companion this weekend and more than an acquaintance next week.
Take care of each other.
With love from Prince Edward Island.
Bruce + Millie
ps. Your Morning Smile
Patient: Doctor, I have a tendency to gain weight in certain places. What would you recommend?
Doctor: Stay out of those places!
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Jane - December 26, 2021

Merry Christmas Bruce, Shirley and Millie,
As always, your blogs warm my heart and make me smile! Wishing you a happy, healthy and safe new Year! Sending love!

Annie - December 19, 2021

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for featuring the Spivey Hall Children’s choir – and it is even more special with today’s marvelous blog encouraging anonymous gifts of kindness and love. Everything about this post today has my heart simply overflowing. The stories, music, bits of wisdom, experiences, and your own kind encouragements are all true treasures.

Kay - December 13, 2021

Enjoyed the blog & the Elf story-how wonderful. Also learning about the children’s choir.

Linda Q - December 12, 2021

What a good way to personalize reaching out to help. My holiday help definitely has been of the impersonal check-writing kind lately so I appreciate the idea.

Thought I’d pass along a snippet of my favorite choral ensemble, The Rose Ensemble, in a very calming and beautiful Renaissance piece from Spain: Beatus Franciscus. It always turns my focus from me to many. Hope you enjoy it.

Jack & Lillian Paul - December 12, 2021

Thank you Bruce… I love the “Elf” story. We need more elves in our world today.

Julie MacKenzie - December 12, 2021

I loved the “Christmas Comes Early” story. I enjoyed the 2 choir videos as well. I sing in my church choir & another large choir consisting of over 125 singers. It gives me so much joy to sing in them. (Although, with COVID, that didn’t happen for a couple of years). I had the opportunity to sing in a Christmas choir this year & took advantage of it. I attended the first rehearsal on Thursday. It was such a blessing to be able to sing again. Thank you for sharing your blog with us. I look forward to it every weekend.

Sharon K - December 11, 2021

I enjoyed hearing about the anonymous elf story. How thoughtful. But I would put forth like the Christmas song says…..can it not be “Christmas all year long”. At least the kindness and spirit towards all. It benefits the giver as well as the receiver. Teaching this to children makes the world a better place.
I have been involved in choirs since I was a child at a small local rural church on a corner of a concession road (the minister had a rotation of churches to preach at). It has always provided me with a sense of peace and almost a zen meditation feeling to this day. It must be the endorphins it releases.

althea - December 11, 2021

Bruce, your best(est) blog. Anonymous giving, when possible, is always the best. However, times when anonymous giving is not possible, the giving still spreads the delight both ways. Blessing, love and thanks to the anonymous reader-elf above. What a wonderful way to the start of this weekend.

murdock morrison - December 11, 2021

Lovely story( Christmas Comes Early) and one to share with others at this time of the year as well as the nice Kitchen story and the wonderful gift this money will be used for a special group, organization and charity. Have a great week as we are headed to Ontario for Christmas with our daughter and family. murdock

Tati - December 11, 2021

Each year our elementary school has an angel tree where we request gift cards from our staff and parent community. For each gift card the school receives the student places an angel on on the tree. The gift cards are distributed to our families that are most in need of support. They can then purchase the groceries, the treats, clothing, shoes etc that they need…giving them the dignity of choice….we are helping those families in the school directly. This year with rising food prices the gift cards will help many. I loved the post you shared and am now thinking about how we might share the same . Thank you.
Finally, I love choral music especially John Rudder’s music at Christmas. My girls all sang in the St. Andrews Children’s choir that served the music for the early mass. From the time they were cherubs they were introduced to some beautiful music, learned to sight read, became part of our church community, learned leadership skills and enjoyed singing as soloists too. One found her way to studying classical voice and opera, one has found her way into the pop field and all we’re blessed to have found their foundations in choir! When you sing you pray twice!

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