As anyone who has been downtown can see, Christmas is upon us. Residents are decking the halls, planning holiday parties and looking for the perfect present for friends and loved ones.

This is a season of thoughtfulness, a time to remember others instead of ourselves. And in that spirit, for the last several years, the Marshall News Messenger has collected small stories of everyday acts of goodwill from their fellow man to highlight the best part of this time of year.

Random Acts of Kindness are just that, random and unexpected moments of thoughtfulness from a stranger or a best friend. They can be big, like someone paying a neighbor's rent when money is tight, or small and simple, like leaving a note of appreciation for the mail carrier for always being prompt, no matter what.

In the spirit of a random act, all submissions are anonymous, with no specific identifiers for the recipient or the giver of the kind act. This isn't to award specific praise, but to create a culture of unprovoked kindness in Marshall, with no expectation of return. Could anything be more appropriate for Christmas?

If you've ever had a stranger in front of you at a coffee shop pay for your drink, you know what a great impact that very small and inexpensive act will make. There have been entire books written about the effect a small moment can have in the course of a person's life. What if we flooded each others' lives with moments filled with kindness?

It can be easy to be focused on shopping and cooking and decorating in these coming weeks. After all, the traditional trappings of the season are the hallmarks of our Christmas memories. But if you can take some time from the busyness and mechanics of the season, to just remember another person, a fellow Marshallite, you will be hooked. And unlike eating your grandmother's favorite pecan pie, this addiction won't make you gain weight.

Send your Random Act of Kindness, whether you performed the act or received the kindness, to Send one, 10 or 100! The more the merrier. Truly, the more Random Acts of Kindness we can shower Marshall in, the merrier we all will be.

We will begin sharing these tokens of kindness this week and will keep running them as long as you keep sending them in. Share the word.