Random Acts of Kindness
article by Cindy G Foust
Does anyone realize what month it is? That’s right, it’s National Grapefruit month. No? Okay, so it’s Great American Pie Month. That’s it, and for the record, any of my readers that want to bring me a pie in honor of this great month, coconut is my favorite. I’m still not making the right guess, am I? Oh, that’s right, it’s the month of love and all things chocolate and rosy…now I’m in the vicinity. February is the month of the year where we celebrate Valentines and candy and wine. Well, I kind of made the wine part up, but it sounds like it might fit during this month of love and romance.
I hate to admit it, but after nearly 21 years of marriage, our Valentine’s dinner generally consists of, if I feel real energetic, frying chicken strips and making mashed potatoes for the family. How’s that for romance? I do like to use the good china (the same set everyone else got when they got married and use once a year…maybe) and the good crystal. I even set the table, insist my family use the right fork, and forbid my husband and son from licking their butter knife.
Anybody else get all Emily Post around Valentine’s Day? Well, in doing my typical research for this month’s column, I was trying to decide what would be more appealing to my readers. Would you want to know how to make marshmallow heart toothpick structures or candy conversation heart frames? Oh, the conflict was real. But then I stumbled across a cool article about all the different national holidays we have. Did you know there is a National Tooth Fairy Day and a National Thank Your Mail Carrier Day? If I were a mail carrier, I’d make sure everyone on my route knew about this holiday and decorate my little mail truck with flashing lights and sit in everyone’s driveway and honk until they brought me a treat,like a bag of M&M’s.
Anyway, where was I? As I was scrolling through this rather fascinating list of holidays, I came across one that will always pique my interest, and that’s one about kindness. I couldn’t believe it, but there it was, in black and white, on the Internet, so it must be true, National Random Act of Kindness Day celebrated on February 17. You know, if you follow my column, this is a subject I frequently write about, because quite frankly, I don’t think you can talk about it too much, especially with children. In fact, my readers may get to this portion of this month’s column and think “there she goes again…” But before you pass me up and head to the next article of interest, think about what an opportunity you have with your children, no matter their age, to recognize a sort of non-traditional holiday that encourages us to be kind.
I recently wrote about this similar topic in December, when I encouraged my readers to be someone’s Secret Santa. I apologize now for the repetition, but the fact of the matter is, I have two children, ages 17 and 10, and I want them to be the kind of grown-ups one day, that think of others more than they think of themselves. I don’t know how it is at your house, but as a parent, this is a monumental task at their particular ages right now. You know, to have them stop or slow down long enough to first, think of something they could for someone that is a good act or deed, and then, actually taking the time to do. That’s what’s so great about this holiday, it’s a day of the year that has been carved out to simply show kindness to someone who would appreciate it or might be in need.
Let’s face it, sadly we all probably know someone who suffers from an illness or recent death in their family, or perhaps they are just aging and would love to have some company. A “random act of kindness” doesn’t have to have a monetary attachment to it. I know when my grandmother, Bitsy, was alive, an impromptu visit for a cup of coffee brought her the most joy. In my opinion, that’s probably the most giving thing you or your children can give, and that’s your time.
Other examples might be to cook someone dinner or a sweet treat; make them a basket with a good book or some magazines, especially someone who might be homebound, or give them a gift card to a good restaurant. Again, it’s not the monetary value of the deed, it’s the act of kindness that’s attached to it. When Bitsy was alive, she was still mowing her grass and raking her leaves. My sister called and needed my son to come help them blow some pine straw off her roof, and even though I had a heart attack watching him walk down the top of her house with a blower, it gave me great pride that he would take his teenaged self to her house and help his grandmother. It gave her immeasurable joy to be able to work in her yard, something she loved to do, surrounded by her family.
That my readers, is the kind of thing I’m talking about, as we approach this rather unconventional and not very well known holiday. I would encourage you to sit your family down, over dinner one night, and talk about someone you know that would delight in an act of kindness from your family. Get everyone in on the discussion as to what your family can do to create a special deed that would bring joy and happiness to someone you know, or may not know. And finally, execute the plan, as a family and take the time together to show love and kindness to someone that will be surprised and humbled by your kind actions.
Trust me on this one, even if you can’t trust me on what color blouse matches your socks, after the warm reception you get from your “recipient,” you could quite possibly find your family wanting to do more “good deeds” throughout the year, and not just on this special February holiday.