Every December, my grandma, my sister, and I dedicate one day to our favorite Christmas tradition. Our grandma picks us up in her pickup truck, and we wrap our seatbelts around thick winter coats, turn the heater on high, and set the radio to the Christmas music station. We drive over black ice through white fields, hills, and valleys until we reach the mediocre diner in the nearest city.
I always order a stack of fluffy pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream. The food is decent, but it's not the point of the trip. We came to give "The Big Tip."
I can't remember how the tradition started, but we've continued it every year for as long as I can remember. It's my grandma's way of spreading Christmas cheer. The idea is simple -- we enjoy a meal together, and then we give the server a large tip in comparison to the cost of the meal. This year, after I handed him the cash tip, our server remarked, "This just made my day. It's been a rough one so far." Brightening his day was fun for us, and he greatly appreciated the gesture.
My grandma's tradition has taught me the beauty of generosity. And, even after moving away to college, the concept behind "The Big Tip" has stuck with me. In my time at college, I've learned more ways to be generous and spread Christmas cheer -- even as a college student with a tight budget.
Tipping isn't impossible as a college student, and it's an easy, effective way to practice generosity. Tip your barista two or three dollars, and watch their eyes light up. You're only out a few dollars and better yet, you've brightened their day.
Try showing generosity to your friends. Let them know you appreciate them by making them Christmas cards, taking them out to eat, or buying them small, thoughtful gifts. Make an effort to do things that make their lives easier. Support them.
Practice treating people with kindness. Smile at strangers and classmates and coworkers, and, if they start to talk to you, listen; they need a listener. Give them your time. Don't be kind and generous just because it's the holiday season.
As college students, it's easy for us to feel like we get a pass on being kind and generous just because we're stressed and broke. This is not the case; there are numerous ways to practice kindness and generosity this Christmas, even as a college student, even without spending money. And, if you need another reason to practice generosity, think of it in selfish terms -- if you make an effort to make others happy, eventually, that happiness will make its way back to you. Generosity pays off.