A Tribute to World Kindness Day One of the Nicest Gestures I Ever Received
Thanksgiving tends to get most of the attention this month, but there is actually another important holiday: World Kindness Day, which takes place on Nov. 13. While the vast majority of us aim to be kind toward others each and every
She asked us all to take a piece of paper and catalogue the various kind acts we had received by others and then spend time actively pondering ways we could do something nice for someone else. She then asked us to take those pieces of paper and tape them on the glass wall at the back of the sanctuary. Then, every time we entered the building, we’d be reminded of all the kindness that exists around us. When thinking about the people who have been kind to me, one memory stands out and, to this day, still makes me well up. I was a senior in high school when I had my daughter, so I headed off to college as a single parent. As I got further along in school and started to meet more people, I decided I wanted to take some sort of action to improve my smile. I’d been self-conscious about my teeth since I was young, and, while other people didn’t notice that they weren’t perfectly straight or that I had a small gap in the front, I felt they were not flattering and needed to be fixed even though my finances would likely take a hit. My dentist in Laramie, Wyoming, referred me to an orthodontist. During the first appointment, the orthodontist looked at my teeth and listened to the corrections I wanted done. When it was time for him to take molds of my teeth, I told him that I didn’t have much but would pay him“a dollar down and a dollar a week” until the bill was paid if he could help me. After all, the first thing people see when they meet you is your smile, and, even if it took me years to pay for the treatment, I knew I wanted it. After he’d gotten my molds back and I came in to discuss his recommendations, he said, “Geneva, you really don’t need very much in terms of alignment. In fact, we’ll just have to put braces on your top teeth. This is really light work for me, and it won’t cost very much. So
day, I believe that having a designated day of observance can help us reflect on all the ways others have expressed kindness to us, no matter how small the occasion. The first time I heard about this commitment to kindness, I was in church. Several years ago, the two mayors in the cities of Turlock and Anaheim, California, issued challenges to their communities to seek out opportunities for altruism. By partnering with several ministries and organizations, these two mayors furthered their initiatives by highlighting existing efforts and identifying new ways those in the area could focus on spreading kindness throughout their communities. My rector had read about these mayors’ initiatives and decided to invite participation in something similar for our congregation.
don’t worry about payment. This treatment will be on the house.”
While I was gushing with appreciation at the time, I’m still not sure that generous orthodontist realized how big of an impact his gesture had on me then and still has on me now. He claimed that the treatment was such a small expense for him and that it would hardly take any time at all. But after years of being self- conscious about my smile, I had finally decided that the stress over the cost of fixing my teeth was worth it. So, while he viewed his gesture as a small token of kindness, his generosity had a huge impact on how I felt about myself. I think that’s what World Kindness Day is really about. You may think that a gesture like complimenting a stranger’s outfit, expressing appreciation to a coworker, or sending a “love you and thinking about you” text to your parents might not make any difference. But you never know what people are going through or how big of a difference your seemingly small act can make.
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