In 2017, be just a little nicer

When I first popped over to my pal Merriam-Webster for a quick recap of the first grade vocab word “nice,” definition number one caught me off guard like Brad and Angelina’s divorce.

Nice: obsolete, wanton, showing fastidious or finicky tastes

I quickly start recapping all the small comments I took as compliments (“Oh, she’s so nice!”) and wonder if I’ve been secretly procuring frenemies for years.

Thankfully, a list of synonyms saved 23 years of personal interactions and returned to me more solid vocab ground…kind, polite, virtuous, respectable. But it seems the compassion I mentally associated with the term doesn’t shine through as clearly as I thought it did.

Guy Raz with NPR Ted Talks agrees. This concept of compassion is a character trait reserved more for Nicholas Sparks novels than in regular work day. We can create a hard uncaring exterior made up of excuses for work, a full schedule, hiding behind a computer screen, or simple, “not my problem.” But compassion is a muscle and one that’s decidedly more important than toning your bum or any other body part on you New Year’s resolution gym list.

During one episode of TED Radio Hour, guest Krista Tippett sums it up, well, nicely.

Compassion is making a choice to honor other people’s humanity. It’s something we can decide we’re going to practice much like throwing a ball. The choice to be compassionate can become instinctive with practice.”

Listen to the full TED Radio Hour episode with more from Tippett, a former nun, a Fox News contributor who gets hundreds of hate mail letters a day, and the man who says digital screens are getting in the way of the transformative power of compassion, here.

So, as we sit down to carve out the future of 2017, let’s all make one small note to…just be a little nicer.


Glance it over gift guide – 2016

 Seven sleeps until Christmas! And if your holiday shopping isn’t wrapped up (there’s a not too subtle pun), you may be dreaming of disappointment under the Christmas tree instead of sugar plums.
Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all my people. The glance it over gift guide is here for your immediate perusal.
A note or two on the selections you’ll find here: Largely, use this for inspiration. While I’m sure my mother and yours would gratefully accept a picture frame with our lovely mugs in it, she would probably throw it back in fury if I told her it was a “Preowned 1920s Tiffany & Co gold picture frame” retailing at $3,500. “That’s a cruise to a warmer and happier place,” she’d cry.
Secondly, while having a physical object to place under the Christmas tree is a tradition, the best Christmas gifts don’t fit in brightly colored boxes. Give the gift of your time. It sounds like the last line of a Hallmark movie, but I swear, they’re on to something! A lunch date, chit chat in a coffee shop, or just time on the couch catching up carries more lasting memories than any personalized mug. And technically, this is the most expensive present of all…because nothing is more valuable than time (cue the “Awwwwws” and Bing Crosby).
Gifts for Mom
If your mom is like mine, her Christmas list is generally full of useful things, but maybe not the most fun. Make sure she gets something unexpected this year she can enjoy without having it tied to a chore.
Christmas gifts for Mom
Gifts for Dad
For the guy that probably knows what he wants, but can’t verbalize it, you’ll have to watch closely. The trick to finding a great gift is thinking about what you can do to make an everyday activity easier or more fun. Take your dad for for dinner for a change! Hearing you say, “I’ve got the check” will have him in a holiday spirit for a long time.
Christmas gifts for Dad
Gifts for Sister
People say she’s sweet, but you’re still having a tough time believing it. You can hint at this with some subtle sass in these gifts.
Christmas Gifts for Sisters
Gifts for Brothers
His habits could be a mystery, so be a super Santa sleuth and find out what games your bro has. You may see something you wish you hadn’t…but in the name of Christmas, be brave! And remember: gift cards aren’t a white flag of defeat.
Christmas gifts for Brother
Gifts for Grandparents
What do you get the folks that probably have everything? Years of Christmas after Christmas, grandparents have accumulated a collection of knickknacks. Spare them the space and take them out to their favorite restaurant. Ask them to do a letter writing exchange with you. A fun note: My grandpa loves the belt shown here because it’s similar to ones he had in the Army. A bit of digging can pay off in dividends.
Picks for Grandma
Christmas gifts for Grandma
Picks for Grandpa
Christmas gifts for Grandpa
Gifts for Aunts and Uncles
These guys can be tricky. If you don’t see your extended family often, tap into some family knowledge or scour their social media accounts. Pinterest boards are the eyes to a person’s soul, you know.
Gifts for Aunts
Christmas gifts for Aunts
Gifts for Uncles
Christmas gifts for Uncles
Gifts for the BFF
You probably don’t see this gal as often as you like, so plan a trip together! Near or far, a weekend away is a chance to catch up with the person you chose as your family.
Christmas gifts for the BFF
Gifts for the Boyfriend
He’s probably more cryptic about what he’d like for Christmas than Benedict Cumberbatch is in Sherlock. One underlying rule, make it something utilitarian. If he’d use it on a regular basis, that’s a win.
Christmas gifts for Boyfriend
The Catch-All Gifts
Your boss, co-worker, hairstylist, or rando-person you just want to be merry towards, make it semi-generic. A coffee mug? Generic. A personalized coffee mug? Only semi-generic. These folks are difficult to shop for, so don’t sweat it too much. That will only make your wool sweater more uncomfortable.
Christmas gifts for Everyone Else
The follow up? Thank you cards for all the lovely gifts you get this year.