The Gift of Kindness

By Regena Handy

When I began doing this column a few years ago, I was determined to stay away from writing about never ending problems that plaque mankind. Everyone already hears far too much on those subjects from numerous other sources. But sometimes it is hard to focus on anything but the dramatic, dark and depressing news surrounding us.

Until an unexpected occurrence puts us in a different frame of mind and reminds us how much kindness still exists in this world. Such was the case this past Saturday night.

Our daughter-in-law’s birthday was last week and celebrated with her family at a Japanese steak house. Anyone familiar with these style restaurants know they aren’t hot dog joints and a family of eight can quickly run up a fairly hefty tab.

In these type restaurants where tables are arranged around a grill and preparation of the meal by a chef is part of the entertainment, strangers are often seated together. On Saturday night one other couple and their small child also sat at the table with the birthday revelers.

After the lengthy meal which included various extras and a birthday cake, the couple left while the birthday party participants continued to linger. Finally, preparing to leave, my son asked for their check. To which the waitress replied, “Oh, that’s already been taken care of. The other couple at your table paid for the meals.”

Our son said that they were all so humbled by the experience, not only due to the good sum of money paid by the strangers, but simply by their act of kindness. In noting their generosity, he vowed to pay it forward.

That’s just one example of the goodness that still exists in what can often seem a rude and cold world. But it serves as a reminder that in living our busy lives we sometimes fail to recognize all the acts of kindness around us, great and small. From generous charitable donations to a friendly word or patient smile for ones who need it most, every kind act is important.

I’m going to make this story a short one. During this busy time of year, there is so much to be done. As I am writing this, I note the date and realize that it is ten days until Christmas, and I, like others, still have gifts to buy, cookies to make, and a tree to trim.

But I encourage each and every one of you, and most of all remind myself, to give the most important gift of all this Christmas and in the year to come. Give the gift of kindness.

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