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Gentili: Join in spreading a little kindness this Christmas season

Our annual 12 Days of Kindness campaign is off and running!

It’s not that I don’t like Christmas. I do. It just takes me a bit to get my holiday engine started. I have to gear up for it.

My engine got the kickstart it needed this past weekend when my family decorated the house for Christmas (everyone except the 17-year-old, who was busy doing whatever 17-year-olds do when they don’t want to participate in activities they used to love when they were younger, but now think are totally uncool).

I dutifully carted the decorations up from the basement, and then my wife, daughter and I began spreading Christmas cheer around our Coniston home. Both my daughter and I love holiday songs and carols, so we belted them while hanging stockings and garland and various other festive knick-knacks.

I must confess, I was feeling quite Christmas-y by the time we were done. And just in time, too.

Today (Dec. 6), kicks off our 12 Days of Kindness campaign. We’ve spent the past few months gathering nominations, rifling through what we’ve received and trying to narrow down to just 12 what is always an incredibly long list.

The 12 Days have become something of a tradition at Northern Life / With her blue jacket and red Santa hat, new media reporter Heather Green-Oliver is both the face and the driving force behind the videos.

When she surprises a recipient, they often recognize her right off the bat, having seen previous Acts of Kindness videos. 

Heather makes the whole thing look easy; it’s anything but. We receive dozens and dozens and dozens of submissions, starting in November. Let me tell you, trying to narrow them down to 12 is tough, really tough.

Some of the stories are just heartbreaking. Who am I kidding, many of them are heartbreaking. Families seeking help for a sick child, parents without the means to give their children a Christmas of any kind (let alone a great one), families struggling as one parent battles a deadly illness. 

What’s more heartbreaking, though, is knowing that we can’t help everyone. The committee that selects the 12 Days recipients (and I’m on that committee, as is Heather) agonizes over the selections. Some requests are just too big for us to handle (strangely, we often get nominations from the United States, that tend to be bigger than what a Canadian nomination would seek). Some just can’t be pulled together in the time available. 

Some we desperately want to do, but just can’t make it work.

One thing that has become clear since we started our Acts of Kindness video series: Sudburians really care about one another. We see it in the nomination process. People see a need, notice someone struggling, and just want to help, to pitch in, to ease a burden or put a smile on a sad face.

The Acts of Kindness provide an avenue for friends and neighbours (and even strangers) to lift someone’s spirits, and in doing so they lift our spirits at Northern Life / by giving us the chance to give back to someone in the community. And by giving us the opportunity to share these Acts of Kindness with you, our readers, those thoughtful nominators in turn allow us to spread the kindness around, to brighten the days of thousands of people in our fair city.

We like to say that kindness is contagious. It’s kind of our mantra around here. We like to think that each AOK (our short-form) video is like a tiny pebble dropped in water, sending ever-expanding ripples out into the world. Maybe that’s a little high-minded, and maybe I think too highly of the impact of our Acts of Kindness. 

And then again, maybe not.

All I know for certain is, when we see a smile break out on the face of a child battling illness or when we bring a tear to the eye of a father who sacrifices everything for his family or when we ease someone’s burden or when we surprise a longtime volunteer with something special, we see those good feelings spread. We can feel it. We even see it when we pop into a mall to hand out free tickets to an event to random shoppers.

We hope our 12 Days of Kindness encourages you to submit a nomination for someone you know who could use an AOK. Even better, we hope the 12 Days encourages you to drop a pebble of kindness into the water and watch it grow. 

Simple or big, it doesn’t matter. Spread a little kindness around, put a smile on someone’s face. Any little thing to make this big world a little warmer. 

After all, kindness is contagious.

Mark Gentili is the editor of and Northern Life.


Mark Gentili

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