Friday, I did nothing but stay glued to my TV and social media. I picked fights with people who thought it was appropriate to declare “Guns don’t kill people! People kill people! Guns aren’t the problem!” Because, really? Of all the opinions to express today, you’re going to choose to share THAT one? Suddenly, every redneck I know was spouting off about their right to own guns. As if this country will EVER place a ban on all firearms. Ludicrous.
(For the record, I’m not against all guns. I’m against semi-automatic guns. I’m against irresponsible gun ownership. Gun control does not mean no guns for anyone. That’s why it’s called “gun control” and not a “ban on guns.” )
My husband, who is not as into social media as I am, said I was too worked up over it. And at first, I was. I was using these little fights as a way to distract myself from the thoughts that were really trying to settle into my mind – like the faces of the children, their grieving parents, the heroic teachers, and the young survivors that will never get those images out of their little heads. Fighting about gun control was the only distraction a lot of us could come up with that day. Calling for better gun control makes us feel like we’re doing something, when all of us just feel so damn helpless.
Saturday morning I woke up, briefly checked the news, and then unplugged the rest of the day. Same for Sunday. My heart is too heavy. I had family Christmas activities planned for both days, and I’m glad because it gave me something else to focus on. Something happy.
But I keep coming back to Connecticut, trying to find some way to help.
Fortunately, there are lots. And so far, my favorite idea is this:
Commit to doing 26 Acts of Kindness. One for each child and teacher.
I’ve started a list, and will be crossing things off as I go. I lost a lot of faith in humanity on Friday, but maybe if all of us do our best to help one another, the good in this world will outweigh the bad once again.
Here’s what I’ve done so far:
1. Donated to the community of Newtown. There are so many funds being set up in the names of the victims, so your choices here are endless. I donated to the Newtown Parent Connection, which is committing to bring in extra counselors to the community to help them process what’s happened.
2. Made a donation to the My Sandy Hook Family Fund.
3. Dropped off cookies for the people that man the lobby at work, making sure everyone that doesn’t work here signs in and has a legit reason to be in the building. I feel secure knowing they’re there.
4. Brought in bagels for my colleagues.
5. Purchased hats and gloves for our “mitten tree” at work. All items will be donated to charity.
6. Contributed to my office’s Adopt -A-Family giving program. Our family this year was a family that lost their home in hurricane Sandy.
8. Delivered a pumpkin cake to my neighbor, who is currently on short-term leave after she suffered mysterious seizures on Thanksgiving and was in the hospital for a few days. Doctors still don’t know what caused it.
9. Say “yes” every time a retailer or restaurant asks me if I’d like to “donate a dollar to X charity” when I’m paying my bill.
10. Tipped the garbage man.
Here are the other items on my list that I plan to do over the next week. I’ll cross them off as I go.
11. Make a donation to St. Jude.
12. Make a donation to the DAV.
13. Send an unexpected note or letter of encouragement to a friend.
14. Drop off cookies or some other baked good to my other neighbor whose mother is on hospice, currently dying of cancer.
15 – 19. Donate 5 toys to Toys for Tots
20. Donate old towels, dog beds and dog toys to the Humane Society.
21. Donate my old shoes.
22. Buy coffee for the person behind me at Starbucks.
23. Buy some pet treats and donate them to the Humane Society.
24. Make a donation to the Red Cross
25. Tip the recycling man.
26. Tip the postman.
(Update: since I wrote this, apparently Ann Curry started this? I’d like to give credit where credit is due for whoever thought of it, but I’ve seen it so many places now, I’m not sure. Anyway, here’s an article that came out today showing 26 Random Acts of Kindness, if you’d like to get on board and need ideas.)