Want to really enjoy this holiday season? Try giving to others out of delight, not duty.

Sure, there are gifts we feel obligated to give. But the magic of Christmas comes when we re-create the spirit of the season for another person just because we feel like it. It’s not hard.

Ask Katie Kringstad, the director of children’s ministry at First Lutheran Church in Fargo. She and her daughter learned a quick lesson about the joy of giving after receiving a special surprise from their local mall.

“One of my daughters asked me to take her to West Acres Mall on Black Friday. She wanted to have some fun together, just the two of us. It was around suppertime, so the crowds weren’t too crazy.

“My daughter wanted to go to every little girl’s favorite boutique, Claire’s. It’s a store full of pink, glitter, and dreams. I’m pretty sure she wanted to buy everything in the store, but she had one item in particular in mind: a makeup set with an attached glitter cat sleeping mask.

“She had some money she had saved with her, but it wasn’t enough to buy that makeup set. Just as she was putting it back, a woman wearing a West Acres name tag came up to us and said she was spreading joy and random acts of kindness. The woman then gave my daughter a $20 gift card! I don’t think words could express just how excited and special that made my little girl feel. She just couldn’t believe they picked her!

“Attached to the gift card was a note that said this: ‘Thank you for letting us Share the Joy with you today! We invite you to join us this holiday season to spread joy around our community. Small acts of kindness such as volunteering at a local charity, helping a person in need, or shoveling a neighbor’s driveway, are simple ways to Share the Joy during the holidays. We invite you to share in our mission to spread acts of kindness, support, and joy during the holidays. Wishing you a very joyful holiday season!’

“My daughter and I then went across to Bath & Body Works where she picked out two of the best smelling hand soaps she could find. Then she picked out two random people at the mall, one young woman with a small baby and one older woman in the food court. She gifted each of them with a random act of kindness for no other reason than to spread love, joy and holiday cheer.

“When we were leaving the mall, I asked my daughter which she liked better, getting the gift or giving the gifts. She replied, ‘Giving!’

“It was such a heartwarming evening and I know that my entire family will continue to spread random acts of kindness because we now know firsthand how it feels to receive one when you are least expecting it. Thank you, West Acres, for being inspiring and kind.”

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.