The holidays always bring me out of my day to day routine and thrust me into happenings in the community. I love it for the most part because I get to catch up with people I haven't seen in awhile.
Tonight was a good example. I haven't officially worked since Sept 2010, but my former employer still treats me like family and I got a special invitation to the women's Christmas gift exchange. I loved being able to see everyone and visit without having to disrupt their workday like I usually do whenever I want to see them. Some things have changed a lot. And some things never change. I found myself able to just thoroughly enjoy the evening. It's something that has changed for me since I had time to step away from the career side of myself and embrace the domestic / mom / wife side of myself.
I think being a mother has made me a nicer person in short.
And, in thinking about what has changed so much for me it boils down to this simple thing...I find myself wanting to acknowledge others. Wanting to make the effort to say hello and invest a few minutes in conversation. And, sometimes, realizing that there is opportunity to encourage by going a step further than a hello. It's very enjoyable to find these moments.
I also realized that sometimes, the most hurtful thing I can do someone else is to simply not acknowledge them or their presence. Examples would be glancing over during my grocery shopping and then pretending like I didn't see someone so I don't have to stop what I'm doing and say hi. Or, not stopping my conversation to say hello to someone when they walk up to me. Not smiling when I make eye contact with someone. It's almost worse than being snappy or pointed in some ways because at least the other person exists when they do enough to get under your skin. Being able to completely block someone out can be the most hurtful thing ever.
So, I'm working on it. Going beyond polite or having to do something into really wanting to do something that says "HEY! I'm glad to see you. I hope you're having a great day. Maybe there's something I can do to help if you're not having a great day."