Last year my friend Kelly made a Facebook post that really inspired me. I had begun this project, Kindness Activist, and was on the lookout for KINDNESS in the world. Kelly’s post really piqued my interest. She wrote about doing something special with her family for Christmas that she called A WHITE ENVELOPE PROJECT. She asked each family member to donate to a charity or do something kind, then write about that and put it in an envelope, to be opened and read aloud on Christmas! I wrote about Kelly and her White Envelope Project here: White Envelope Kindness
I decided to try a version of the same project with my family!
I mailed everyone a letter (yes, a real live
printed on paper snail mail letter, which I thought would get their attention more
than an email). The letter asked each
person to do something KIND during the year, then tell us about it when we got
together to celebrate Christmas. Each
letter was personalized for the recipient, with some ideas for kind actions
that I thought might be up their alley. Here
is the letter I sent my dad:
|KINDNESS - by artist Kemper Englund|
I meant to write this letter in January, and here it is nearing the end of April… I guess I am a bit behind on this, as I am on so many other things! But I will file it in the “better late than never” category.
I am writing because I want to ask you for something for CHRISTMAS.
The older I get, the less “stuff” I need. I know you understand that, every holiday that comes around all of us Thompson girls giggle and say, “What are you getting Dad?? Are you getting him another sweater this year???”.
So, this Christmas, instead of a THING, I would like to ask for an ACTION:
I am asking each family member to do something KIND. Some action that you can do for someone else in the world. Maybe you will change a stranger’s flat tire, maybe you will give a donation to the Open Door Mission, maybe you will pay for another table’s dinner when you are at a restaurant… Just something KIND.
Then write a note about your kindness, take a photo of it, or draw a picture of it and seal it up in an envelope or wrap it in a box! At our family Christmas, I would love to open THOSE GIFTS and be inspired by all of the kindness that our family put out into the world.
There are 8 months left until Christmas. That means 8 months for you to do something KIND and document it. If you feel like you might forget and need a reminder or two during the year, just let me know and I am happy to remind you.
Thanks, Dad. I love you and can’t wait to see what kind thing you do!!”
Every family member got a letter, including the toddlers! I sent a reminder letter about a month before the holidays, in case anyone had forgotten. And boy let me tell you, the cost of postage was well worth it – the big reveals were SO WONDERFUL!!
Every. Single. Family. Member. Got. Involved! Everyone! I was so, so, so delighted! And people were excited to share!! The acts of kindness ran the gamut, too – my terrific family spread kindness in all sorts of ways!
Here are just a few examples:
- My dad repeatedly helped two wheelchair bound men get out of the building and into their vehicles. He also donated to the Open Door Mission in Omaha. Plus, he paid a woman to come clean the house just because she needed some money (even though the house didn’t really need cleaning).
|Classic photo of my dad, 47 years ago|
- My dad's wife Evelyn put money in the Salvation Army red buckets each time she passed one. She also gave her granddaughter the SHIRT OFF HER BACK when the girl complimented it! Evelyn went right into the bedroom, changed shirts, and let her granddaughter go home with the shirt she had complimented :) .
- One of nephews, Trevor, was amazingly kind to a friend in need. Even though Trev didn’t have a lot of money himself, he shared what he had with the friend who had nothing and was homeless. I think we all got tears in our eyes listening to Trevor’s story of kindness – it was amazing.
- David gave a ride to a stranger so the man could make it to church on time, and another time jumped in with a car full of strangers to help lead them to their destination when it was clear that the usual spoken directions were not going to be enough. He also went out of his way and went into the university on a Saturday (a day off) to help out a student who had a tough semester and missed the final performance. David giving up a few hours of his weekend meant a better grade (the one she deserved) for the student.
|My sisters and I - Christmas 2017|
- My sister Annette is great at giving manicures and pedicures. She gave free
pedicures to 4 women who needed some extra special treatment and kindness. She
also took a couple of friends who she knew were going through tough times out to
lunch. Plus, she stocked up on Halloween costumes when the stores marked them
down after October 31st to have them ready next Halloween when some students at
the school where she works do not have costumes! Isn’t that going to be an amazing
surprise for them?
- My sister Sherry was mindful all year of people who work in service professions. She
was careful to go out of her way to COMPLIMENT people in stores and other places
who did good work. She asked to speak to their supervisor, and made sure the
management knew that the employee did a great job. She said most managers were
surprised that someone would go out of their way to compliment good behavior, and
that they were all very appreciative.
- My nephew Nate and his wife Lyndsey made a POSTER of many of the kind things
their family did in 2017! It was super sweet. They have a 2 year old and an infant,
and even the kids got into the kindness! Baby Keegan donated some of his diapers to
babies whose families lost everything in the hurricane. Toddler Ryker helped make
blankets for animals at a special event. The family delivered treats to the staff at a
hospital that took care of their Grandpa. The whole family did a kindness that I
thought was really fun and meaningful: they had lots of packages being delivered for
the holidays, and they left Starbucks gift cards with thank you notes for the delivery
people! They left one for the mail carrier, who in return left THEM a thank you note!
|Starbucks gift cards for stressed out delivery people = KINDNESS!|
|Cookies are a great act of kindness!|
|Nate and Ryker working on a blanket for an animal|
- My nephew Jordan had a co-worker who was going through a particularly difficult time. He took meals to her and collected money to help her out.
- Hadley Jo is only 2 years old, but that is old enough to be KIND! She donated some of her toys to kids who didn't have many. And her mamma, Elizabeth, gave puzzle books to nursing home residents. The two of them prove that kindness has no age limits!
|2 years old is old enough to be kind,but it is not quuuuite old enough |
to not be afraid of Santa... :)
|The Englund family did kind things ALL YEAR!|
|That is a LOT of cupcakes!|
|Here is a portrait of the whole KIND Englund family :) (by artist Tallis)|
I think I will ask my family to do kind things again for Christmas next year. It is not tough – any little kind act is appreciated and goes a long way. And hearing all of the stories sure helped make my holidays brighter. Feel free to take the idea and use it with YOUR family – I don’t think you will be disappointed in the results.