The inspiration for this blog came as a result of the profound sadness and grief I experienced following the tragedy that struck Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on Friday, December 14th, 2012.
The tragedy left an indelible print on my heart and soul. The loss of life resonated way too deep because I too, have made a career of educating and protecting children. I am an elementary school principal who is responsible for the emotional and physical safety of almost 500 children and staff. My tears were for the families, educators, and community that will be forever changed. Forever broken.
The day after the tragedy, my husband and I held hands, counted our blessings, and chose to begin our healing by attending a Christmas program at church. In support of the program, we also chose to participate in the church’s Toy Drive for children. This meant in the hours before the program, we braved our way through crowded toy aisles in the local Target store to purchase several new toys.
The brief shopping spree was appalling. The rudeness and hostility shoppers exhibited was disappointing. I was still feeling raw and vulnerable from the previous day’s news, and naïvely assumed others would be as well. One customer on a cell phone cut directly in front of me during checkout, and another snapped at me that I wasn’t moving through the line fast enough. It was after this point I wanted to shout. I wanted to stand in the middle of the crowd and wail: “Doesn’t anyone practice compassion anymore? What about a little joy or kindness? What about a Merry Christmas?”
After shopping, we continued on to enjoy a quick cup of coffee at Starbucks before the holiday program. Once at the Starbucks counter, I paid for my items and then almost without thinking, pulled a $20 bill from my wallet. I handed it to the cashier and said: “Here, please pay for the coffees behind me. Merry Christmas.”
The barista was a little confused at first, but quickly caught on. I then heard several customers say some kind words of thanks, and another gave a quick, nervous little laugh. I quietly moved out of the fray, began to eat my snowman cookie, sip my latte, and chat with my husband.
It was then I began to ask if something as simple as a cup of coffee could really provide cheer to someone. I wondered, what would happen if I bought a stranger’s coffee every day for a year? Could something so little bring some joy into someone’s day? Would this simple gesture prevent the bickering and bad attitudes I encountered only minutes before while checking out at the Target store? Does paying it forward really make our world better?
I decided the generosity couldn’t hurt, so this blog was born. This is the beginning of 365 cups of kindness. This is a web log that I describe as Fully Caffeinated Generosity and Hope©. Thank you for joining me. Let’s see where this journey takes us.