The Internet tells me that today is Random Act of Kindness Day, which seems fitting because I have been witness to several random and maybe not so random acts of kindness over the last few days. My part of the world was hit by a snow storm two nights ago that blanketed us with 30 cm of snow, and did a decent job of shutting down the city. Other than a pretty hairy drive down one of our main streets when my windshield wipers suddenly froze, the girls and I have fared well. I likely should have kept them home yesterday but I managed to navigate the snowy streets to their school, and back again when they had an early dismissal. Today, though, our street still unplowed, there was nothing to do but declare a snow day. Oh, and shovel. There was also a whole lot of shovelling.
Over the last few days I've seen a lot of kindness, and have tried to do my part. Neighbours helping neighbours clear their driveways. Drivers jumping out of their vehicles to help push cars stuck in the snow. Pedestrians helping each other navigate snow banks. Kindness has also come my way in the form of shovels at the ready, and neighbours helping to watch the kids. After hours spent clearing most of my driveway, the City snow plow finally came through and pushed everything from the road back on to it (and every other driveway around the block). As I was trying to get my weary bones in gear to go back out with the shovel once more, a neighbour who I don't know from Adam came by with his snow blower and put it all to rights. I could have kissed him. I may still.
The weather was frustrating and I'm sure it wasn't all love and compassion, but on my little street, I saw a neighbourhood working together and making the best of it. It was a rather beautiful and heartwarming thing.
I've been thinking a lot about acts of kindness lately, random and otherwise. As it happens, a few days ago, on Valentine's Day, the girls and I devised our own: The wee ladies made little Valentine's packages - envelopes with an inspiring message and a Hershey's kiss - which we took downtown to deliver to strangers. They had a great time making them, and they took tremendous care when decorating the envelopes and coming up with what to write (I was told that my job was to be "the kisser", to put the chocolate kisses in the envelopes and seal them). My eldest, the girl with a heart of gold, wanted every message to be unique. My youngest was no less enthusiastic and her messages were just as heartfelt. One urged the recipient "Don't be a bully!". Another highlighted the fact that "Blueberries are nice" (to which she added "You are also nice"). I took the girls out for dinner and they distributed the packages to other patrons at the restaurant, as well as to all the participants of the Kingston Drum Circle who we joined later that evening.
Watching them give of their heart, and seeing their smiles grow as they saw how much joy they were bringing to other people...well, that was a pretty great Valentine's Day gift. And then...
The next day, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and came upon a post from the restaurant. They had shared a patron's post that told the story of receiving a special package from "two sweet little girls" on Valentine's Day; the writer of the post noted that "Love is everywhere."
I may have cried, and I showed the girls the message. We talked about the impact that their small act of kindness had on those strangers, how much their smiles and their positive messages had made a difference. I'm not sure they fully understand how Facebook works and how we could see that message (counting that as a win) but they don't need to, and they didn't need me reiterating the good that happened. They felt it. Giving with a kind heart is second nature to them. They never questioned why we should make Valentines and hand them out to strangers. Of course that's a thing you should do.
I like to think that the girls came by their compassion honestly, but I know that there's a lot more that I can do to share kindness and give with a loving heart, and I want to continue to encourage my children to do the same. Which is why I'm declaring "Little Love" a new series on JTTG, as a reminder to myself to look for small ways to give and act with kindness and as a place to talk about ways we can do that. I hope that this can be a conversation - I'd love to hear your ideas and stories of how you have either received or taken part in acts of kindness, so please share in the comments below.
My girls don't need a reminder because kindness is simply who they are. The thing is, though, it's who we all are. Or at least who we all were once. Big hearts born to be compassionate. Let's grab our shovels and our stickers and get back there.
Because blueberries are nice. And so are you.