The presents are torn open, Santa's cookies hungrily devoured and the bottle of bubbly has been popped. Christmas morning is here, and with it a veritable feast of food and gifts. But what if we didn't have to wait until today to let people know we appreciate them? Incorporating one intentional act of kindness a week is a sure way to stay on St. Nicholas' "nice" list and bring joy to those around you. And what better way to show love than through food?
In high school, my friend Bethany and I instituted a weekly tradition called Cake Tuesday. Monday nights meant being in the kitchen until midnight baking double-layered cakes, using our heart-shaped pan and boxes full of decorations. Each cake was unique, but all had a symbolic C.T. spelled out in peppermint candy or chocolate chips.
We would discuss which classmates we had noticed being compassionate or doing noteworthy acts. The next day we would deliver the cake during class to the chosen person, explain what Cake Tuesday was, and why they had been chosen. It became an anticipated event, with some making guesses and giving nominations. I can't remember how many cakes we made or who exactly we gave them to, but I will always recall how happy it made people. That simple, silly act of kindness has stayed with me for the past decade.
This week I reminisced about Cake Tuesday when I ordered six dozen old-fashioned doughnuts from the Kobuk Cafe in downtown Anchorage and delivered them as thank-yous to the under-recognized people I work with.
Making food for people and practicing random acts of kindness are two things that can be done together all year long. Here are some food-inspired ideas to put into action today and into the new year.
- Put a surprise love note or sketch in with your spouse's or kid's lunch.
- Invite someone to dinner who might otherwise be eating alone.
- Cook a meal for someone and deliver it to him or her.
- Order dessert and send it to another table.
- Bring your mailman or crossing guard a hot cup of coffee or cocoa.
- Make two lunches and give one away.
- Offer to return a shopping cart for someone loading groceries in their car.
- Collect canned food for the food bank.
- Don't ignore the next homeless person you see. Buy him or her food.
- Pick up groceries for a neighbor.
- Anonymously pay for another family or individual's meal at a restaurant.
- Let someone cut in front of you at the grocery store.
- Send an edible thank-you note – enclose a chocolate bar.
- Volunteer to serve a meal or cook for the homeless.
- Mail chocolate chip cookies to a first-time college student.
- Help with the dishes without being asked.
- Participate in Cake Tuesday and deliver a cake to someone with a note about why you think they are great.
Shannon Kuhn lives in Anchorage, where she writes about food and culture. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.