Along with gearing up for the holidays in festive ways, I also take note of the numerous blessings in my life, as I remind readers to also reach out to those less fortunate, which invariably leads to a much more satisfying and rewarding season.
Doing something nice for someone else just feels good. A sweet email was recently called to my attention. Linda Danis wasn't thinking of the holidays, but rather her birthday and not in the way you'd expect. There weren't any grand plans for a big party, shopping or a special spa day. This wasn't how Linda envisioned her birthday. Rather, this author and mom of four kids that she and her husband, Dave, raised, decided what she really wanted was to have others "pay it forward" and then relay to Linda what they did to brighten someone else's day. When we spoke, Linda, who wrote, of "365 Things Every New Mom Should Know: A Daily Guide to Loving and Nurturing Your Child," told me how she came about the unusual way to commemorate her birthday.
"I don't need anymore 'things' for gifts, but to me, knowing that someone else's day was made better because someone else went out of their way to offer an unexpected kindness is the perfect gift," she said.
In part, her email sent out to family and friends read, "For 50 years friends and family have celebrated with me, sharing cards, gifts and meals. I have loved every one of these things, but this year, I would like to do something different for my 51st birthday. Instead of receiving something, I would like for others to receive something instead. I would love for you to do a random act of kindness (RAOK) for someone else. My gift would be in knowing that another person's day was brightened because of something you did for them. That would be the very best gift of all!"
Linda hoped for 51 acts of kindness for her 51st birthday. However, what she got was an overwhelming response, which way surpassed her expectations. Her son's high school teacher read her letter to all of her classes and declared that it would be Random Act of Kindness Week and challenged the students to pay it forward.
"It was such a blessing to read the emails as they came rolling in to tell me about the acts of kindness that were done in honor of my birthday," said Linda.
She heard from family, friends, co-workers and even strangers as her email was shared. Some folks helped out elderly neighbors by shopping and making meals for them. Others made cookies for friends, volunteered an early shift or brought treats to children at school, and someone gave out Starbucks gift cards to let co-workers know how much they were appreciated. One of Linda's friends said she placed Starbucks coffee cards on random windshields with notes telling them to celebrate random acts of kindness. Someone paid for the McDonald's order for the car behind them in the drive through line and a person did the same at the movie theater. Someone gave up their seat on BART, and someone made dinner for a repairman, as he shared he was the sole caretaker of his bedridden wife of 45 years. Another person made a financial donation to a family who is going through difficult times and a student helped a special needs student open his locker when he was having trouble.
Knowing that seeds of kindness were being scattered all around in big and small ways made for such a great birthday," said Linda.
Contact Caterina Mellinger at around- email@example.com