Have you felt it? That overwhelming need to dispose of all clutter now that the holidays are over?

I’ve cleaned out one closet and have about seven more to go. I’m clearly not the only one feeling it, because I got a letter from a woman in Wisconsin whose need to downsize meant an upswing in kindness.

“I was in purge mode after the holidays. I wanted to get the house back in order and make space for the Christmas gifts we just received. I went through each room and ended up filling six garbage bags that were ready to go to our local thrift shop.

“I could barely see out of our car window and had forgotten to eat, so decided to get a Big Mac. I was in a bit of a hurry because I needed to pick my kids up from school in 20 minutes. When I got to the speaker at the drive-thru, it seemed like the car in front of me was taking a while and then when it was my turn, the lady asked me to ‘hold on for a minute.’

“It was about six minutes later when she finally took my order. I wondered what was going on and was feeling a bit frustrated, but when I got to the window, I saw that this young lady looked really flabbergasted. She was pregnant and seemed overwhelmed and somewhat timid, as if she was afraid I was going to yell at her.”

She apologized to me as she took my credit card, and I told her, ‘No worries, stuff happens.’ She gave me my chocolate shake and as she went to go get my Big Mac and fries, a crazy thought crossed my mind. I wondered if she would like the brand-new designer purse I was about to donate.

“It was a Christmas gift from about five years ago and just not my style, so I never ended up using it. It still had the tags on it. I grabbed it out of the top of the bag and when she came back to give me my food I held it up to her and said, ‘Hey, I was wondering if you would like this?’

“She looked stunned, but then got a big smile and said, ‘It’s beautiful.’ As I gave it to her, I said, ‘It looks like you’re having a bad day, and now maybe this can make it a bit better.’

“I drove away with a kindness high, smiling and knowing that she had made my day by accepting the gift. What a neat feeling to know she may really enjoy it or she may pass it on to to someone who will.”

We may not all have a carful of goodies to give away, but there is one thing we always carry with us: encouraging words. Those words can reroute someone’s entire day, including our own.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.