When you hear that a friend or family member is hurting, sick, or upset, your first response is probably to think of ways you can help. Maybe you send flowers, make them a meal, or simply provide a listening ear. No matter what you do, it makes a big difference to know that someone cares.
Sometimes, though, the small things can mean just as much. I'll never forget my senior year of college, when I had to read a 500-page history of the Caribbean for a literature class. While the history of the Caribbean is anything but boring, this author was a total snooze. It was 500 pages of pure tedium, and a friend of mine knew I was having a hard time getting through it. One day, while reading, I discovered a Post-it note in her handwriting that said: “You can do it!” As I kept reading, I found notes of encouragement along the way, and although the book never got much better, the treasure hunt she had created was all the motivation I needed to power through.
Sure, it was a small thing. It probably only took her five minutes, but it made a huge difference to me. And it wasn't just about finishing the book – it was a reminder that someone cared, even about the mundane parts of my life. Of course, we are still close friends.
I bet if you think about it, you can recall a time or two when someone made a small gesture that meant a lot to you. When Reddit community member CindyCharming recently asked “What small gesture made you feel enormously loved?” responses came pouring in. Here are 17 of our favorites – and please, don't forget to share your own.
1. I went to my Dad's house and his wife's car had the stick figure family on the back window. I was on it with her real kids.
2. My mom had dementia and one of the last conversations we had before she had an accident that killed her was just me complaining about my boss. "You tell her that you're excellent at what you do and she doesn't know anything about your job and you don't need to put up with her nonsense" etc etc. It was horrible advice, but just that bit of proof that someone was on my side and believed in me no matter what still makes me cry with love and longing for her.
3. When someone remembers something about me.
4. When someone randomly checks in on me. Like talks to me just for the sake of talking to me. I have a friend who will text me occasionally just to see how my job is going and to ask how my cat is. Makes me think that someone genuinely care about my existence. I like it.
5. For some reason, I really like it when people actually say my name when they're talking to me.
6. When my partner places his hand on the small of my back while we're out. Or when he kisses the top of my head out of the blue.
7. The day my step-dad introduced me as "my son" for the first time.
I don't think he even realized he did it. But every other time he introduced me to anyone he would say "my wife's son."
I was like 13, and I won't ever forget that moment.
8. My son is 16 months old, and is a bit of a mummy's boy. I worked at sea a lot in his first year, and our bond sort of came and went between me being home and me being away. It was the hardest time for me.
Yesterday, I gave him some little chicken flavored snacks in a bowl, sat him on his Star Wars sofa to watch a movie, and then I sat on our living room couch behind him.
Standard dad procedure.
Next thing I know he puts the snacks on the couch, crawls up on the couch almost unassisted for the first time, and sits right next to me, almost half on my left leg. He puts the noodles on my lap, picks one up, and offers it up me. So I pretend to have a bite, and he eats the rest.
This carries on until all the snacks are gone, and five minutes after that he falls asleep. Soon after that his hand is on my shirt, squeezing it.
And in that moment, I knew that my son loved me. He loves me so much he will share his snacks with me, and come to me for comfort. And he can do that until he is a grown man for all I care. I knew right there and then, that I will never work away again. My place is here, with my boy.
Then, as a single tear is just starting to creep its way out of my eye, he farts with the intensity of a bison.
9. Whenever my husband sees a new type of chocolate bar or sweets at the shop, he always picks one up so I can try it.
It's a tiny thing but it reminds me he's always thinking of small ways to make me smile.
10. While I'm working, reading, or just otherwise occupied, when she wraps her arms around me from behind, kisses the back of my neck, but otherwise just lets me keep rolling along while I'm in the zone.
May not sound like much, but it just makes my day.
11. My favorite is when my husband sees my freckles (they're very light), smiles this handsome smile and says, "You've got cute freckles."
12. "I know you just got home from work but do you wanna just take a random short walk?" I always hated her asking because I was tired but now that she doesn't, I miss it. I should have taken the chances to do that when she was here.
13. After supper when I leave from my girlfriend's parents' house every Sunday and they say I love you to both of us.
14. When I have a bad day, my fiance will often leave work early to clean up the apartment for me, light candles, order takeout, etc., so that I can come home to as stress-free an environment as possible.
When he does that, I always have to take a minute and bask in how it feels to be so completely cared for, that he would put his work life on hold to rush home and prepare a sanctuary for me, on a day that I probably snapped at him because I was in a bad mood. Utterly amazing.
15. The "Did you get home okay?" Texts.
16. "Oh, I just saw this and thought of you" gifts.
17. When me and my wife lay in bed at night before we go to sleep, watching TV. Just her being there with me. We don't have to snuggle or look at each other or talk or anything. Just her lying next to me is the most comforting thing I can think of. Makes me feel extremely loved. Quadruple points when the dog is laying between us.