As I pushed my chair away from my desk and stood, Bernard knocked on my open door. “Do you have a few minutes, Santa?”
“Is it important? Ms. Claus just called and wanted to show me something in the mailroom.”
“I was going to give you some updates, but they can wait until our meeting tomorrow.” Bernard turned to leave, then stopped. Looking back, he smiled. “Don’t keep your wife waiting.”
Giving him a thumbs up as he left, I followed and headed in a different direction. When I entered the mailroom to a chorus of “Morning Santa,” I saw Anya waving for me to come over to her desk.
“What is so important?” I asked sitting in the chair in front of her desk.
“This letter came in last night and when I read it, I knew you would want to see its contents right away. Eight-year-old Madison from Louisville has an interesting story to share.”
“She is a sweet girl. Usually, I receive her letter in November. Has she decided what she wants already?”
“You should just read this,” Ms. Claus insisted, holding the letter for me to take.
Nodding, I unfolded the letter and began reading:
Overcome by Madison’s action, I paused and after handing the letter back to Anya, I remarked, “Looks like Madison has found the true joy of gift giving. I talk to children about doing things for their family and friends, but Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) is a different level of gift giving.”
“Doing something kind for another creates such a wonderful mood,” Anya explained, placing the letter on her desk, “because it does not stop with the receiver and giver feeling good about that moment.”
“You are so right!” I stroked my beard as I thought, and continued. “Just last year, Ms. Fox, a second grade teacher at one of the schools I visited, was actually teaching RAK in her classes.”
Anya picked up her cup of tea and commented, “I didn’t know kindness was being taught in school.”
“I didn’t either, but apparently she uses lesson plans you can get from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. She also told me about Kindness Counts, a book she likes to read with her class at the beginning of each school year.”
“A book about kindness?” Anya questioned then took a sip of her tea.
“It’s a story about a complete stranger who unexpectedly pays for a child’s ice cream. That leads to a family discussion about random acts of kindness. Since the young boy is so impressed by the action, he tries being kind to strangers himself. But when his dad wants to donate the boy’s old toys, including an awesome superhero sword, his generosity is put to a huge test. Can he be kind when it demands sacrifice or just when it’s convenient?”
“What a hard decision for a child to make,” Ms. Claus pondered aloud.
“That’s a hard one even for an adult, let alone a child. Ms. Fox told me that they spend a lot of time talking about the book and what her students would do.”
“I wonder how much of a difference her efforts are making?” Anya asked.
“Ms. Fox invited me to meet her students last year before they went home for Christmas break. When I arrived, I got the usual children screaming “SANTA!” Looking around the room I saw many of the children had turned back to what they were doing when I arrived.”
“They ignored you?”
“At first that’s what I thought, but when I looked closer, one boy was helping a classmate tie his shoes; another little girl was helping her friend clean up a spilled drink; and two more were busy picking up a pile of Lego’s and putting them in a box. Amazed at the respect these young students had for each other and their teacher, I said something to Ms. Fox. She informed me, ‘This is the second year I have taught kindness in the class, and the results have been the same each time.’”
“When I asked her what she meant, Ms. Fox continued, ‘I have found the children to be more kind and caring not only in the classroom, but also in the halls, cafeteria, and playground. They also seem to trust one another more than before I included the lessons.’”
Holding her cup with both hands, Ms. Claus leaned back in her chair, and asked, “Do you think doing random acts of kindness will have a long-term effect on the children?”
“I wondered that as well, and asked the teacher.”
When I reached for a cookie Anya had on her desk, she lightly slapped my hand chuckling, “That’s my cookie, but I’ll let you have it if you tell me what Ms. Fox said.”
I smiled as I took the cookie and sat back in my chair. “She said ‘I’m not the only teacher doing this at our school, and what we have noticed is that the boys are more aware of their actions and making better decisions, while the girls have become more confident and have increased their social awareness.’”
When I finished, Anya put her tea cup down and mused, “So doing something kind for random people has long term effects as well as the immediate gratification. That’s how it spreads! Standing, she turned to look in my direction and added, “I think you need to talk to children about doing more random acts of kindness for strangers in addition to things to make their family and friends happy.”
“Could not agree more!” I exclaimed while getting up to leave. “But right now, I need to respond to Madison and let her know how proud I am of her, and that I will do something nice for her Flower Bandit.”
Notes From Santa
I hope you enjoyed today’s story. I will post another one next Monday. If you have any comments or if there is something you would like me to tell you about, please feel free to leave me a comment. Until next week . . .
To see story about the Louisville Flower Bandit please check out:
The Louisville Flower Bandit – September 3, 2021
To read more about Random Acts of Kindness please check out:
Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
Kindness Counts: A Story Teaching Random Acts of Kindness by Bryan Smith – ISBN-13: 9781944882013
Find Cincy Santa (@CincySanta) on:
Illustration from The Functional Home