Mark Twain, born November 30, 1835, was a master of wit and satire. He gave us Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, among other works, and was deservingly dubbed “the father of American literature” and “the greatest American humorist of his age.”
Twain left behind a lot of wisdom for future generations. So we find it fitting, in the month of his birth and the beginning of the holiday season, to honor his memory by sharing one of our favorite Twain quotations:
“Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
Good News-Worthy: Right Things That Gratify and Astonish
Maybe it’s the warm-and-fuzzies of the season (or all the hot chocolate we’re prepped to down), but there’s something heartwarming about good news this time of year. It’s like the whole of humanity has silently agreed to restore our faith in one another – and to remember Twain’s sage words.
A few examples? Last year, an anonymous group left a “tip-bomb” for one deserving waitress. In 2011, a secret Santa made the season brighter for a few families, after paying off $1,000 in layaway gifts. (And layaway angels have become more and more common, yay!)
Importantly, it’s not the money that makes it special; it’s the thought behind the act – the doing of something right, with the intention to help others.
Random Acts of Kindness for All
As much as we love these news items, the true beauty of the holiday season, and of Twain’s timeless quote, is that we can all do something. It doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to cost thousands; it just has to be something good, to gratify or astonish.
One Canadian family, for example, practices random acts of kindness throughout the holiday season. They do little things, like decorating strangers’ windshields with candy canes (and quotes from Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas), baking cookies for the local police, and sending stuffed animals to kids in need.
It’s a movement known as RACK – Random Acts of Christmas Kindness – and it’s for everyone, no matter your faith or celebration. Here are a few of our favorite RACK ideas:
- Pack a meal, wrap up a coat, or buy a present for a homeless person.
- Pay for the next person’s Santa pictures.
- Donate crayons, colored pencils, and coloring books to a local shelter or underfunded school.
- Sponsor a child or “adopt” a wild animal (to pay for healthcare, conservation, etc.)
- Hand out hot chocolate to local Salvation Army workers.
- Shovel a neighbor’s driveway, anonymously.
- Surprise a deserving friend or family member with free babysitting.
- If you know someone with physical or financial limitations, help decorate their home for the holidays.
- Donate wrapped toys to charity.
- Knit scarves for refugees.
- Put quarters in about-to-expire parking meters.
There’s so much we can do to add a little bit of brightness to someone’s holiday season. What’s on your RACK list?