"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." — Aesop
As my husband and I hurried through the grocery store parking lot the other night in a devilishly cold wind, a Christmas card blew across our path. A message was scrawled in a child’s unsteady hand: “Merry Christmas from Nathan. B”
The card distracted my racing brain for a moment from the nagging thoughts of all the Christmas prep left to do — cards to sign, gifts to wrap, cookies to thaw, tree to trim — and I wondered who might have given it and by whom it was received. I was sorry that the card — some child’s act of thoughtfulness — had obviously blown out of someone’s car or bag and was sent hurtling into the wind.
We make much of kindness this time of year, and the news is filled with stories of good deeds and charitable giving, of holiday toy drives and food bank collections.
But imagine if we treated each other every day as if it was Christmas, offering up that extra touch of goodwill and generosity — and not just to friends and loved ones, but strangers as well.
In fact, in my experience, most people are very, very kind.
Since I’ve started writing this column, I have been the beneficiary of so many kindnesses from readers that I couldn’t possibly recount them all. I’ve felt a real sense of community that is not always what you expect when you are sitting solitarily and typing at a keyboard, often about things that aren’t warm and fuzzy.
Earle phoned the other day, out of the blue.
“I had to call and ask, how is Lucci?” he said, referring to the sweet little mutt we adopted from Humane Services last year, who has a serious autoimmune disorder. “What medications is he taking? Is he doing OK?”
Since I’ve started writing this column, I have been the beneficiary of so many kindnesses from readers that I couldn’t possibly recount them all.
When I wrote about the loss of our last dog, Willie, three years ago, I received an electronic torrent of condolences, empathy, poems about pet heaven, photos of beloved pets, letters of encouragement and stories of your own experiences with grief.
After a column about my husband’s heart attack, he and I would often get stopped in the grocery store or in the park by people asking about his health. That the interest was well-intentioned and not merely inquisitive was clear, and greatly appreciated.
Pieces I’ve written about a parent’s death or a loved one’s struggle with dementia have elicited warm reactions from readers about their own losses, often accompanied by sound advice or a fresh perspective, and for that I am grateful.
A doctor whose letter to the editor I shepherded through the publication process came to the visitation after my father died, though he and I had never met before.
A lovely retired professor dropped by one day with the gift of a reverse dictionary that he and his wife thought I might enjoy. And I do.
Linda Clarke, whose battle to have the cost of crucial dental surgery covered by the government has been documented in this paper, dropped off two beautiful cakes she baked, despite the fact that she herself would have been unable to eat them.
Just a few months before this province suffered the tragic loss of author/scholar/supreme wit Patrick O’Flaherty, he sent me a copy of his latest book as thanks for having helped him post something to our website.
For every troll’s nasty tweet likening my work in this paper as barely being worthy of serving as a wrapper for dog poop (OK, so there’s only been the one of those so far), there are hundreds more messages offering encouragement, insight, invigorating counter-argument, constructive criticism, humour and thoughtfulness.
Thank you, readers, for letting your generous hearts shine through, every day of the year.
Kindness need never be confined to one season; it is, as Aesop noted, never wasted.
The Christmas card from Nathan. B has a new home on our coffee table.
Merry Christmas to him, and to all of you.
Pam Frampton is The Telegram’s associate managing editor. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: pam_frampton