Happy Valentine’s Day, friends. Today is a day of love and kindness, friendship, romance. It’s a day that some call wonderful and others hate. I myself have called it “Stupid Cupid” day more than once. I realized I was looking at it wrong. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about having someone love you….you can make it about what makes your heart feel happy. Acts of love and acts of kindness make my heart happy, and so that’s what I have chosen for Valentine’s Day to mean to me. I’ve been the recipient of so much love and kindness in my almost 39 years, and I hope that I’ve passed some along to others.
One easy way to spread love and kindness is a simple phone call. A simple “Hey! I was thinking about you today!” can really make someone’s whole day brighter. So can a quick handwritten note. There’s just something about picking up the phone to a friendly voice that does the heart some good.
When friends or family are sick, offering to pick medications or items they may need at the store is a simple act of kindness. If the family has the flu, some chicken soup, ginger ale, and some Kleenex would be so appreciated- and doesn’t cost a lot of money. Spread a little love by sending a Kleenex Care Pack to someone you know who is sick or in need.
Smiling at that mom who looks like she’s going to fall over from exhaustion and her kids are “done” at the store but she still has to pay for her groceries. Telling her kids a joke to distract them from the wait.
Holding the door for a stranger. Paying for the coffee of the person behind you. Passing out $5 bills at a grocery store. There are a billion ways to do acts of kindness. When you stop to think about it, it’s pretty amazing what gifts we are all able to give without spending a single cent.
This may seem a little weird to talk about today, on Valentine’s Day, but I think that the events of December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT and so many things that have happened afterwards are a truly amazing testament to acts of love and kindness. The very instant the horrible, the unthinkable began, the love and kindness also began. Yes, the shooter wreaked havoc and yes he robbed 27 people of their lives, but in doing so, he also created an outpouring of love and kindness. Think about it. The staff who thought only of the children in their care. The first responders. The second responders. The third…the waves of folks who came to help. This quote that went viral from Mr. Rogers says so much.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
What did we all do as we learned about Sandy Hook? We prayed. We reached out. We spent a little more time with our own loved ones. We wrote letters to our representatives. We were a little kinder to our neighbors, to people in stores. We wept and grieved and came together to share in that- hoping that one of our own tears falling might, just for a moment, ease the pain of just one of those parents from Sandy Hook. We loved together. We sent bears. We sent flowers, and cards, and money. We sent our pets, our friends, our friends on motorcycles. We sent our neighbors and our firemen and our police officers. We sent love and kindness where it was needed most. We did random acts of kindness. We hugged our neighbors…we prayed together, we wept together, we have begun the road to healing together.
So many police officers from other places went to Newtown so that their police officers could have some respite. They went in the cold and in the rain. In the middle of the unspeakable grief this town was living with, they opened their doors and brought hot coffee to officers. They put pins on their lapels and said “thank you.” They’ve sent thank you notes and even Valentines to the departments who came to help – my friend shared an image of one of them on Facebook. It made my heart happy, and I think of how it must have made the kids in Newtown happy to be able to give something to someone else again.
For me, some of the biggest acts of love and kindness have been directly from the families- little Ana Marquez-Greene’s parents who continually and deliberately choose love, and ask others to do the same. Daniel Barden’s parents ask “What would Daniel Do?” and share of Daniel’s love and kindness in his short life. There have been foundations and donations and animal rescues and there have been so many other ways that these families have been able to spread a little love and kindness. If they can take an unspeakable tragedy and find a way to spread love and kindness from it, so can we.
Today marks 2 months since the events at Sandy Hook. 2 months since acts of love and kindness “went viral” and I hope that this continues. So I challenge myself, and I challenge you- what acts of love and kindness will YOU do today?
Kleenex brand, America’s softest tissue*, knows that once one experiences the softness of Kleenex brand tissues, they will be eager to share it with other cold and flu sufferers, friends and strangers alike, as a way to show they care. This cold and flu season, make the care complete with a Kleenex Brand Care Pack, and together we’ll turn a seemingly-small gesture into something bigger, to make everyone feel better. Visit kleenex.com/softness to learn more.
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Kleenex via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Kleenex