Kindness might be the most valuable gift

Sarah Kelly with presents

St Mary's Church organiser Sarah Kelly with Christmas presents for the community - Credit: Sarah Kelly

If ever a new year needed a positive kick start, it must be 2021. 

Whilst not attending parties, buying new outfits, or entertaining friends and family at home might be a bonus to some, it wasn’t a great way to start to the year for me. This holiday season, even for those of us who are safe and in good health, has been challenging.

The one silver lining (other than the vaccine roll-out of course) has been the kindness particularly towards strangers or, often more accurately, people we didn’t yet know.

Whilst this last year was one of separation, it was also a time of making new connections, something positive to build on in 2021. We’ve heard so many stories of people going that extra mile not only for loved ones, but for neighbours, for people alone or isolated and, of course, for people affected directly by illness.

Laura Marks OBE, interfaith consultant, The Common Good.

Laura Marks OBE, has been impressed by kindness shown during the pandemic - Credit: Laura Marks

Two recent stories in the Ham&High struck me as epitomising this culture of kindness; firstly Kilburn’s St Mary’s Church contacting local refuges and shelters providing gifts signed by Santa.

Then, Muswell Hill Foodbank who donated over 200 goodie packs to local families including mince pies (my downfall this winter), and seasonal treats.

Most quirky by far, a man appeared on my local social media feed, with a plate of gingerbread, singing a song about tier 4 to cheer us up. I’m not sure it quite did the trick, but it was a good try.

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Closer to home, my daughter cajoled me and our neighbours into writing over 250 Christmas cards for the residents of a local care home – starting, I hope, a relationship with them which can last and blossom.

“You can always give something” said Anne Frank, “even if it’s only kindness.” 

This year kindness might be the most valuable gift of all as we struggle with the negative and broad effects of the pandemic both nationally, and locally. Luckily for everyone, I won’t be making up songs, but I do have a couple of mince pies leftover and it would be such a kindness for someone to just take them away, before I give in, and eat them.

  • Laura Marks is founder of Mitzvah Day, chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and an interfaith consultant -