I recently went to a meditation session. At the end of the visit our host told us the following Monday was his birthday. He asked if, as a gift to him, we would do something kind for someone else on that day.
I thought that was an awesome birthday idea!
The following Monday, I saw my neighbor, a new mother, in the yard with her baby. I went outside to say 'hello'. In the course of the conversation, she told me, not in a complaining way but just as a matter of circumstance, about the sleeplessness and the challenges to get anything done with a baby in tow.
I remembered my meditation host's request and said, "Hey! Why don't I watch your baby for an hour. I'll just hang out with him here in the back yard and you go in and take an hour to yourself."
She was so surprised she almost cried. "Are you serious? Really? Would you be able to do that?" "Of course!" I said. "I'd be happy to!" (This neighbor knows me so it wasn't like she was leaving her baby with a total stranger.)
An hour later she came outside with a smile on her face. "I got so much done!" I had sang every kid's song I knew and had a good time hanging out with the baby too. And I was so happy to see her smiling like that.
It was one of the best birthday presents I've ever given, and it has inspired me to ask the same from all my friends this year. It's not like I need any more stuff and I know it will make me feel great to know my friends are out there sharing their talents and time with people who can really use it.