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The Blanket (A Christmas Story)

“I never thought it was such a bad little Christmas tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.” ~ Linus

You never know when inspiration is going to hit! Recently, it didn’t just hit me, it smacked me hard like a hammer hits a nail. It was a series of “coincidences” that moved me to tell this story, and maybe inspire others.

Queue the Capax Christmas party two weeks ago; after a few hours of shared holiday cheer, I ran into Kaitlyn and Mark, a pair of my co-workers in the hotel lobby. They were at the front desk, asking where they could buy a blanket at um, yep … 1:30 in the morning! I was a bit curious about their ask – we were, after all, in a lovely hotel that happily provided guests with blankets for their beds – what could possibly be the issue here?

“We passed a homeless man on our way from the office to the hotel”, they said, “and he looked so cold. We brought him food from the office party, but now we want to do more – we’d really like to bring him a blanket.” “Wow, that’s a warm thought”, I shared, and we started to brainstorm about how to complete their quest, as they were clearly moved by the man’s plight.

I remembered a blanket I had brought to my office a few weeks prior, and a plan was quickly formed; the story ends with my thoughtful co-worker returning to the office, grabbing the blanket and giving it to the same homeless man. When she returned to the hotel, she shared how appreciative he was, given his sleeping bag had been stolen a few days prior.

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention” ~ Oscar Wilde

Fast forward to last week, and I’m in the car driving into Chicago with a replacement office blanket in my back seat, on my way to share more holiday cheer with a client. At the top of the exit ramp stood a homeless man, fists clenched as he held a cardboard sign that said, ‘Homeless and Ashamed, God Bless’. As I inched closer to the top of the ramp. I looked in my wallet and … argh, out of cash. Dammit – he looks so cold and uncomfortable, surely there is something I can do.

Just like my co-workers the previous week, I was deeply moved by his plight – but what could I do before the cars behind me started sounding their horns? Then inspiration hit … Shazam! The blanket! I rolled down my window and told the man that I didn’t have any cash – but I had a nice blanket he could have if he wanted. His face lit up like I was handing him a winning lottery ticket, and he expressed his gratitude before I made my turn.

As I continued on my way, I couldn’t dial the phone fast enough – I wanted to tell Kaitlyn (the previous week’s blanket delivery service) about how her actions had influenced me, and what had just happened. After shouting “YAY” into my ear, she proceeded to tell her own continuing adventures. A few days after she flew back home to Philly, she purchased a bunch of blankets and handed them out to more homeless people.

A Christmas miracle? No. The contagious energy that’s generated when you do something selfless? Yes!

How can we keep this going? What can you do to share the love that Linus so perfectly demonstrates as he wraps and brightens Charlie Brown’s tree? When this holiday season comes to a close, and we re-start the commute, back to work and all of the responsibilities that wait for us – what will you do differently? How do we create more contagious energy and change the world?
I’d like to challenge you a bit, to think about how you interact with your clients, vendors and co-workers. What if you invited them to join you in a charity event? Or, send them a thank you via a charity gift card, where they choose how to allocate the funds? How about brainstorming with your marketing team, and incorporating social responsibility messaging and action into your marketing events? Align with your employees and find out what causes are close to their hearts – prioritize those programs.

Don’t think too much, just pick an option and get started – activity leads to answers. You’ll be amazed at what you discover about others and yourself.

Find your blanket and thrive.
I’d love to hear your comments about your own blanket moments and ideas! Weigh in and share!

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