My dad’s parents settled in the north end of the city shortly after they were married. They were married in September 1956, so their first married Christmas happened just a few months after their wedding. A few days before December 25th that year, my grandparents received a notice from the department store Sears that their stove had been paid off. They asked around, trying to find out who had been so generous by paying off their stove, but no one seemed to have any idea who’d paid it. It was a mystery.
The next Christmas, my grandparents were celebrating their first Christmas as parents. It was my dad’s very first Christmas. Again, a few days before Christmas, they received a delivery from Sears. It was a Christmas present for my Dad, from this secret Santa. My grandparents still had no idea where the special deliveries were coming from. By each Christmas growing up, my dad and his siblings would always receive a mystery delivery from this generous secret Santa.
It’s a foggy autumn morning, and I’m going through the motions.
Dragging myself out of bed, getting ready in the bathroom, wrestling my hair into some style that won’t scare small children, dressing, getting the dog ready, checking that I have all three sets of keys…
But today, I have a little bonus to look forward to, a slightly longer weekend, because I’m done work at noon today. I can’t wait to be done with my work day, so I can get home, brew a hot cup of tea and curl up with my stack of stationary.
I’m going to write some love letters to perfect strangers.
Yup, I know. It seems like an odd thing to do, even odder from a cynic like me, but here’s something you may not know about me… I belonged to the More Love Letters Team. I’d stepped away from it lately. I felt like things were too busy, that I was going through too much, that I had such a horrible writer’s block that nothing was coming. So I took a step back from writing love letters.
Until I received my own love letter and was reminded home much of an impact a little hand-written message of love can do for a person going through something tough.
I’d been through a few weeks of emotional rollercoasters; work stress was getting to me, my granddad passed away, we got some really sad news from an expectant friend and my brother’s wedding fell just days after my granddad’s funeral. Big feelings, all across the spectrum; extreme sadness and joy.
Then last week, I came home from a horrible day to find a love letter in the mail from my friend (And MLL teamster). It was such a great surprise to come home to. A little note from someone saying they were thinking about me. It made my week.
So I started thinking about writing love letters again. I picked up a new package of notecards. And then this week, I got the More Love Letters October Bundle email. A call to write love letters for three amazing people that are going through some tough times. Just like I had been going through.
Three people that need a little encouragement, a little support and some love in the form of love letters crafted for just them by perfect strangers.
Take a few seconds to head over to the More Love Letters website, take a few minutes and pen a love letter for one, two, or all three of this month’s Love Letters bundle requests.
In high school, I used to wait by the music room after school to meet up with my boyfriend. We lived in generally the same direction, so even on nights where we didn’t have plans to hang out, he would walk with me most of the way home.
The elementary school down the street got out around the same time we did, so we would often walk home surrounded by running, screaming, playing kids. One day, as we were walking home, we came across three little boys tormenting a little girl. From a distance, we could see that the little girl was upset, it was written all over her face. It’s not until we got closer, though, that we could hear what the little boys were saying.
The boys were no older than eleven and I was shocked to hear their words. Slut, skank, whore, bitch and cunt. For variety, they added combinations of fucking, stupid and dumbass to the insults they were throwing out. I was shocked into silence, rooted on the spot.
How could these children be treating each other like this? What made them think that this might be acceptable behavior?
My boyfriend, however, jumped into action.
“Hey!” He shouted, but if the boys had heard them, they were ignoring him. In two strides, M had caught up to them and he tried again, this time louder. “HEY! What the HELL are you doing?”
This time, the little asshats stopped their harassment long enough to look around. That’s when they spotted the gangling, 16-year-old standing over them. Their apparent ringleader spoke up first, “Fuck off, you big doofus!”
I held my breath. My boyfriend wasn’t really the fighting type. He was tall, awkward, skinny and yes, most certainly a geek. He wore black plastic framed glasses, plaid shirts and Chucks (apparently he was a hipster before it was cool to be a hipster). He was a writer and a musician and impossible at sports and athletics.
But then again, he was up against a group of pre-teens.
“First off, you can drop the language. Secondly, you can stop assaulting your classmate. You know that’s what you’re doing, right?” He paused. The asshats were looking at him with their mouths hanging open. M didn’t wait for them to formulate a response, “You’re assaulting her and harassing her. That’s against the law. People go to jail for that. It’s disrespectful and it’s not how human beings behave. You don’t believe me? Let’s go talk to your principal about it.”
While M was lecturing the kids, an audience had starting forming around us. Kids from the elementary school, kids from our high school and even a few parents had stopped to watch the commotion. M looked around at the people watching his intervention. And then he tore into them, “And all of you standing around. What the hell is YOUR problem? These boys were acting disrespectfully and you all chose to ignore it, walk by, pretend like it wasn’t happening? Guess what that makes you? Just as terrible at being a human being as these guys,” M gestured to the asshats who were shifting their weight from foot to foot, staring at the ground.
M then turned to the little girl that had been the subject of the torment, “And you. No one should ever treat you the way these guys have today. You got that? It’s not okay. It’s not just a joke. They’re not friends. They’re not teasing you because they secretly have crushes on you, they’re jerks. Don’t give them the time of day. Don’t let their words get to you. Because you’re better than that.”
By the time he was finished, everyone was looking uncomfortable.
After M had stopped into the elementary school to share what had happened with the school’s principal, we continued on our way home in silence. As we neared the corner where we would part ways, I finally spoke up.
“So. You were kinda the White Knight back there. Everyone looked uncomfortable. I even felt uncomfortable.”
“Good,” M smiled, “Everyone should have felt uncomfortable. The only thing worse than being a douchebag is ignoring douchebags. When we ignore stuff like that, it’s like we’re giving our silent approval of the situation. If more people would call idiots like that out, they’d be less likely to do it. Generally speaking, those guys are cowards. That’s why they tend to run in packs.”
M became my hero that day. Not only did he stick up for the little girl when everyone else was passively letting the harassment go on, but he also took us all to task for standing by and letting it happen. I hope that everyone else that was present for it remembers it, too, and that it has changed how they would react if they were ever to come up against a similar situation at some other point in their lives. At the time, I thought it was just an issue kids face.
But it still happens. All the damn time. At work. On the internet. On the street. It takes on different forms, different words are thrown around. But it’s still the same thing, it’s just as hurtful and disrespectful.
So how do we stop it?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this after reading this post by fellow blogger Dominque. I’m at a loss for words, really. And those of you that know me will find that pretty surprising.
We’re all in this together, it’s time we all start realising it.
Do you know how they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder? They’re so not lying.
As some of you may know, I lived in a long distance relationship for years…with snow.
In my mind, snow was this glorious, amazing thing. It blanketed everything in sparkles. It seemed to make everything just a bit quieter, just a bit cleaner, just a bit more magical.
Snow was fun. It was playful. Flirty. Romantic.
I’d missed it so much that when I came home for Christmas holidays to discover there wasn’t any snow on the ground… I was a little heartbroken. Felt a bit stood up.
So I returned to Oz and continued to pine for snow. By that time it had become pretty clear to me that I’d fallen truly, madly, deeply in love with snow. At least I thought I’d fallen truly, madly, deeply in love with snow.
Then I moved back to Canada. I was excited to experience the colour changes of fall, experience drastic changes of the seasons and finally, finally be reunited with snow.
When I caught the first glimpse of snow on Halloween that year, I was pretty damn excited.
But then the snow just kept coming. It brought with it freezing weather, dry skin, wet boots, slippery sidewalks, treacherous driving conditions, and long, dark, dreary days.
Snow was kind of a disappointment. Snow was a bit of a douche who didn’t know when it was time to go home and never cleaned up after himself.
It didn’t take long for me to realise I wasn’t at all in love with snow. I was in love with the idea of snow. Living with the reality of snow never, ever compared to the fantasy I’d built up about it in my head. What a bummer.
My love for snow was all but gone by the end of that first winter home. These days, I try to avoid it at all costs…
…That’s my long winded way of saying I’m kinda glad Snowmegeddon didn’t happen today. And I’m not at all sorry for feeling that way.
This is an amazing project that started out so simply, but has grown into something huge. Hannah was leaving love letters she wrote to strangers across New York City. She truly believed in the strength of reaching out, even to a stranger, to say “Someone cares about you, you’re enough, you’re loved, people are thinking about you.” Through the connectedness of social media, soon Hannah was receiving requests for her love letters from people all over that needed some support or knew someone that was having a rough go. And so, in September 2011, The World Needs More Love Letters was born.
This is a project that is really close to my heart. And I think that’s a pretty big deal coming from me. I’m kinda known for my cynicism and jaded-ness. My cynicism was born from the fact that we humans seem to forget that we’ve all got stories, we’ve all come from somewhere and we’re all in this together. I believe in More Love Letters, because it reminds people that we’re all in this together and if we were all able to show a little more love, the world could truly be a better place.
Love Letters is looking for some support right now and with Valentine’s Day coming up, I was thinking what better way to show your loved ones you care about them than by sharing the love and supporting Love Letters. We could really use some help paying for all those stamps. Please visit the IndieGoGo campaign for More Love Letters or think about adopting a Love Letters Bundle or writing some love letters of your own to leave behind in your neighbourhood.