A small fragrant candle from a friend glows in the hallway.
A Sunday morning bagel is delivered to a grandmother with a note reading, “Nana, you are awesome”.
A newsy call from a nearby neighbor which includes the name of a book to be shared.
Such small, but meaningful experiences of these weeks while we shelter in place, isolated from others are treasures of the times. They are moments to relish as we try to overcome what can be overwhelming as we isolate and worry about what our new normal will be.
These are times when kindness is the byword of the day, whether it be a mother to now home-schooling energetic children, or wife to a wearied husband quick to be grumpy, or a grown daughter trying to be patient with in-laws and cooking meals for a family sequestered together. It doesn’t matter, we all need kindness, perhaps now more than ever.
There are many ways to achieve this.
IF YOU ARE BY YOURSELF:
First, if you are isolated by yourself, be kind to you. Pamper yourself with good books you haven’t had the time to read before, perhaps like a book about one of the kindest characters in modern literature in Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow. Or, get comfortable and treat yourself to a home mask facial and a good movie, perhaps like the Netflix series Broadchurch. Take time to appreciate the good in life...friends, comfortable surroundings, food, and the luxury of time you have never had before. Explore new interests or projects you can do at home at your leisure. The Library of Congress, for instance, has opened up a new fascinating volunteer program one can do at home transcribing historical letters.
IF YOU ARE A COUPLE:
If you are part of a couple, discuss what kindness means to both of you, especially in this time of 24-hour togetherness. Make sure you find time to do things on your own, have space to which you can retreat, and ideally, a place to work and phone that doesn’t intrude upon the other. And in exploring the kindnesses you both look for and appreciate consider the span of the day and include chores that need to be shared.
IF YOU ARE PART OF A FAMILY:
If you are part of a family, perhaps multigenerational, all together for this extended period, take time to learn and appreciate what makes each individual happy. Once you know this, make a plan that each member of the family will show special kindness to each of the other members of the group. For a child, it may be walking the dog for dad, clearing the table for mother, helping a brother or sister with homework, making someone else’s bed, or quietly emptying the dishwasher. Each person signs on to this project to provide at least one special kindness to everyone in the family every day. At dinner, each can share what these kindnesses meant by those who received them. It is a great way to foster kindness now and in the future.
Kindness has all sorts of benefits besides making one happy. It fosters togetherness and closeness through mutual understanding. Time is so valuable and in our present circumstances we have time that can show great rewards if we practice kindness frequently now to those with whom we are sequestered.
Catherine S. Arcure is a professional etiquette instructor, certified by the American School of Protocol®. During her many years as a food editor and writer, Catherine not only attracted a large and loyal following but also took every opportunity to educate readers in the social graces. As a director of development for the University of Michigan and other educational and performance-related organizations, she planned and coordinated major social events for groups ranging from 20 to 2000. In addition to cultural and volunteer activities in Manhattan, Catherine enjoys spending time with her twin grandsons, who are among her most avid students. If you have enrollment questions, please contact Catherine at her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.