With Christmas being nearly here, I have been thinking about the practice of Random Acts of Kindness.
Giving selflessly is likely to be one of the most useful things to do at this moment in time, if we want to honour the spirit of Christmas.
I see people giving their time selflessly, standing outside shops for hours with a bucket to raise money for charity.
Some people choose to go and spend Christmas Eve or Day in children’s hospitals, dressing up, to make them laugh…
Others leave things in random places, to make someone smile. Or spontaneously buy a coffee to a perfect stranger. Or go out on cold nights to meet homeless people and offer them warm food and blankets… Or offer you partial refunds on eBay for faulty fairy lights you bought from them, because “it’s Christmas after all” (if someone understands why a partial refund is more generous than a full refund, please let me know :D)
Or my 7 and half year old, who asks :”Do you need any help Mum?” as I was carrying bags and plates full of food back to the car yesterday after his Christmas party, in front of astounded Mum’s, amazed that he would offer to help.
I have never met Deb Behm. I had never even heard of her until earlier this week when I randomly came across this tribute paid to her by one of her dear friends, Susie Gourlay.
It’s a shame I first heard about Deb as I was reading that she died of cancer earlier on this month, 5 days before her birthday. I read that Deb was a mother, a spinner, a knitter and a yoga teacher, amongst many other things. She used to leave hand-knitted items in bags with a note, in the hope that whoever finds it will smile and enjoy this gift:
Susie Gourlay remembered her dear friend on her blog, knitnatural.com:
“Her and I often went out and did our Random Acts of Knitting (RAK) as she called it, and we placed our handknits around the city for people to find and hopefully bring a smile or some comfort to those who did. She wouldn’t admit to her being one of the people doing this but she was so humble. She would wrap up a project knit from handspun (cashmere, silk, angora, wool) along with an encouraging note and a granola bar in packages, she was so, so generous. I would even joke and tell my husband to follow close by so he could snatch us these bundles so I could keep them ;)”
To me this sounds heroic. I sometimes find it hard to part with items I have knitted as a gift for friends or family, as Christmas or birthday presents… While I am spending many hours knitting the object, I feel great joy and excitement thinking about the fact that I’m making a gift for this special someone, as I get closer to casting off, I start to think that actually, I may keep that one and knit them another one. And so on.
We knitters, crafters, artists and makers of all kinds are extremely lucky, because we have countless opportunities to practice giving and random acts of kindness (or knitting, to use Deb’s words).
“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”
—Road Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
(Illustration: Quentin Blake).
A while back I was reading an interview of Roald Dahl’s widow, Felicity Dahl, And this story made me smile:
‘He would make the most mundane thing seem fantastic because he would reinterpret it.’ On a trip to Zurich to meet Dahl’s European literary agent, they caught a funicular railway and noticed that each time the train stopped at a certain platform, the driver would get out, put his hand up into a ceiling beam and pull out a part-smoked cigar. ‘He lit it, had two puffs, put it back and got back into the train to drive down again,’ says Felicity. ‘All day he did this – up and down. When we got back to the city, Roald bought the most expensive Monte Cristo cigar. We went back up the funicular. At the platform, he took the old stubby cigar out and put the new one up in the beam. Then we went back to the hotel. He didn’t wait to see the driver’s reaction. That’s the sort of guy he was. He was always looking to help people and just make their day a little more interesting, because most people’s days were very dull.’
I often read Sonia’s blog. I don’t know much about her, I know She is a knitter, that she lives in Melbourne, Australia and is a part of a lovely knitting community. She recently knitted herself this cardigan. And after she finished it, she sent me six and half balls of what she had left of her beautiful Louisa Harding shingle yarn.
She sent them to me as a gift, even though I live in England!
When I received the parcel, I was really moved by such kindness!
Betsy Greer has written a book called Knitting for Good, in which she explains how she uses crafts and especially knitting as an opportunity to create positive change in the world, a way to bring a little bit of peace and warmth in this sometimes cold-hearted world. She would knit a few baby hats or children garments and give them to a charity she knows, which sends them to parts of the world where such items are most needed.
I also follow blogs written by ladies who knit for their items to be sold for animal welfare charities.
Why do we find it easier to give to people we know? Is it because they will know it’s from us and love us even more?
If we give randomly to a perfect stranger, we can’t be sure that our gift will be useful or appreciated and we won’t get this warm feeling from the gratefulness of the receiver?
As an Indian Proverb says : “All that is not given is lost”.
That’s an interesting thing with Santa and these anonymous gifts that appear every year under the Christmas tree on Christmas Day. Whoever bought what, it doesn’t matter, because they won’t get thanked for it. Santa is the saint who generously left all this there.
Today I’d like to do my humble tiny Random Act of Kindness. Leave a comment to share your own story or anecdote about a Random Act of Kindness you did or are planning on doing. I’ll pick one, or maybe two? and I’ll make a little something and send it in the post (yes the real post) for you…
picture © kmarissa