Today, we find ourselves in the middle of #30DaysOfKindness. From November 5th, Monday through Friday, until December 17th people will join the event and do a random act of kindness in order to brighten up the day of their fellow human beings.
I was thinking a lot about how to contribute to this event (apart from wishing the bus driver an excellent day), when I found a note in my mailbox that some parcel was waiting for me at the post station. Since I love parcels, I was so excited to pick it up the next day and it wasn’t a small parcel but a big 5kg package from home! My friends had been putting together my favorite Christmas sweets and other thoughtful presents like socks and thermo-tights, which are probably vital for the Canadian winter. This was an unexpected act of kindness; I was very happy and proud to have such good friends.
Meanwhile on the other side of the earth…
My best friend moved to Singapore a few months ago for his Ph.D. and he enjoys the country very much. However, with December and the pre-Christmas season arriving, some nostalgia kicked in. A few days ago and completely unexpected, he received a big parcel, too. In contrast to me, he didn’t just rip it open but took the time to set up a camera to film him unwrapping the package. This was a very good idea because it allowed the senders to view his immediate reaction to the content. He received different sorts of home-made baking goods, which are a crucial part of the German pre-Christmas tradition and for which I envy him, and next to other goodies, he also found a big present and hand-written cards for every Sunday until Christmas.
In the video you can clearly see how touched he is by this unexpected package and platforms like Skype and YouTube certainly help to forget the geographical distance between friends and family, because you can actually see each other.
New media certainly have their advantages and I wouldn’t want to be without them. Nevertheless, I noticed that “real” mail somehow has more value than the electronic version, because it is so rare. When I get a letter or a postcard that has nothing to do with paying bills or advertisements, but is a note from a friend, I’m very excited because it is something so special.
Combining the digital and the pre-digital world
With #30DaysOfKindness I looked for a good way to give something back to the people that mean a lot to me and I found Apple Cards. It is a tool that combines the convenience of an e-card with the excitement of receiving an actual card. Using your iPhone or iPad, you can chose from many templates and customize your card with your own pictures and text. Apple will print a high quality “real” version of the card and send it via mail to every place in the world. This service costs about $5 per card but the price is significantly lower for destinations within the U.S. ($3).
Despite the price, I prepared nice little cards, wishing “Bon courage” (French for “Hang in there” or “Good Luck”). This time of the year is often very stressful for all university students and since all my friends are spending a semester abroad right now, I wanted to surprise them and make them smile. Each of the cards contained a personalized note on the inside, also explaining the hashtag. Now I only have to wait until they reach their destinations…