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A Wonder-Filled Season

How spreading cheer made my spirits extra, extra bright. 

A chocolate Santa dollar bill for a waitress. Photo by Diana Aydin.

Today marks the last day of my 12 Days of Wonder project, where I sought to sprinkle a little wonder in the world for the two weeks leading up to Christmas.

I was inspired by Norman Vincent Peale, who advised, “You will find if you spread happiness that you will have more to spread.”

Well, that’s exactly what happened. Spreading cheer made my spirits extra, extra bright. It really was the highlight of my holiday season. I couldn’t wait to make friends, co-workers and complete strangers smile like it was Christmas morning.

I discovered that it didn’t take much to bring joy to others. In fact, most days, I never spent more than $5. What’s more, the wonder started to bounce back to me in ways I could’ve never expected.

Take a look for yourself.  Here’s a recap of my 12 wonder-filled days:

Day 1
As I wrote about earlier, my first day of wonder involved sending a message to the building across the street from our office. I hung up signs in our conference room windows that asked, “How do you do?”

A few days later, I got a message back–a snowman and the words, “Do you want to build a snowman?” I put up a reply (“It doesn’t have to be a snowman…”) and am still awaiting a response.

Regardless if I get one, the back-and-forth window messages delighted our office all week. Proof that wonder is all around, if only we choose to partake in it!

Day 2
After brunch with friends on Saturday, I left a chocolate Santa dollar bill on the table for our waitress. My friends teased me for it, shaking their heads. I guess leaving candy with a tip isn’t really something you do in New York City…or maybe anywhere!

As we were leaving, though, the waitress spotted the candy bar with our receipts. She looked confused. “We left you some Christmas candy,” I explained.

Well, I don’t think I’ll ever forget her reaction. Her whole face lit up and she got so excited. “I love candy,” she exclaimed. “This is my first Christmas gift of the year!”

Day 3
Sunday was my sisters’ birthday and, on the way back from lunch, my family stopped by a pastry shop for dessert. I picked up a bag of Christmas cookies for our doorman before we left.

When I returned to my apartment, I handed the bag over to the doorman on duty. He looked so genuinely delighted. Dr. Peale was right – spreading happiness really does do wonders.

Day 6: Decorations on a colleague's office chair.Day 4
On Monday, I hid a miniature candy-dispensing Christmas tree by our actual office Christmas tree, along with a note wishing my colleagues a sweet day. The following morning, I found another note next to it. “Dear Office Elf,” it said. “I was BLUE and I needed something to brighten my day. And thanks to your sweet treat it did. Thank you!”

Day 5
My sister Kristin is a kid at heart (she’s also a toy engineer!). So I hid candy bracelets on her dresser in our apartment, next to all her other jewelry. She’s been wearing those bracelets ever since!

Day 6
I decked my co-worker T.J.’s desk chair with a little Christmas sparkle. She didn’t say anything about it at first. But then at night, she wrote about it on Facebook, thanking me and saying that the simple gesture made her smile all day. It was a note that couldn’t have come at a better time. I’d been having a pretty stressful day and T.J.’s message, in return, made me smile too!

Day 7: A candy cane hidden in the copy chief's files.Day 7
On Thursday, I snuck a giant, strawberry-shortcake flavored candy cane in our copy chief’s filing cabinet. A simple act that made me realize how easy it is to make someone’s day. You don’t need to make huge gestures. Sometimes hiding candy in a filing cabinet will do just fine!

Day 8
My friend and I were on our way to a birthday party and I surprised her with this silly snow globe. Does an adult really need a snow globe? Probably not, but it sure did put her in the holiday spirit!

Day 9
Saturday night was extra cold, so I gifted hot chocolate to a complete stranger. Again, the look of surprise and delight was completely worth the price of a cup of cocoa!

Day 10
I had to take the train up to my parents’ house over the weekend, so I decided to leave behind a copy of the latest issue of Mysterious Ways magazine on my seat for whoever sat there next. I like to think someone flipped it open and stumbled upon inspiration at just the right time. Isn’t it wonderful to ponder the part you might’ve played in a stranger’s story?

Day 8: A snow globe for a friend.Day 11
I wanted to prove that you can add wonder to the world without spending money. So I looked to the elevator at work for inspiration. Most days, I keep to myself or check my phone as I’m waiting to reach my floor. But on this day, I attempted to talk to people on the elevator, even though I didn’t know them. I noticed that many of the people I talked to left the elevator with a huge grin (me included). And I didn’t have to spend a penny!

Day 12
For my final day of wonder, I left our Guideposts entertainment editor a “Wreath Witherspoon”–a wreath with photos of Reese Witherspoon on it! Again, something completely silly. But completely wonderful at the same time!

How have you spread wonder this holiday season? Share your story below!

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