Kindness Makes All the Difference

October 27, 2014 Book Review 6

Kindness Makes All the DifferenceThe 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith
Published by Harmony Books on October 28th, 2014
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 224
Source: complimentary review copy


This post was inspired by The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith, memoir about how  random acts of kindness transformed her family’s bereavement and grief during the holidays. Join From Left to Write on October 28th as we discuss The 13th Gift. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Help comes in all kinds of packages, Jo.  Don’t worry about who delivers it.  Just accept. (p.83)

Once upon a time, many, many moons ago, I opened the front door to . . . an empty house.   I had recently told my husband and step-father to my children that I wanted a divorce, and he left without a scene that very same day.   Lo and behold, a few days later when my kids and I returned home after a long day of me at work and them at school we discovered a practically empty house.  Everything from the silverware to the beds was gone.

When you’re standing in an empty living room with three children {ages 11, 10 & 8} looking at you, waiting to see you how you’ll react, the easiest thing to do is to have a complete emotional breakdown.  Fortunately, I was in a state of shock so going the easy route didn’t happen.  I remember sitting on the floor, holding onto my babes saying over and over again “it’s going to be ok. We are going to be ok.”  I’m not certain if I was trying to convince them or convince myself, but whichever way, we struggled and muddled and got through those first few moments.

In the days afterward we found small ways to make the best of the wide open space.  I brought the cd player home from my office, and we cranked up “The Phantom of the Opera” soundtrack, dancing around the living room while singing the high notes as off-key as possible {If you haven’t seen three little ones & one crazy mama belting out “Angel of Music” then you’re missing out!}; we took turns sliding up and down the laminate floor in our sock feet and spent lots of time wishful thinking about the furniture we would buy if we ever won the lottery {it kind-of helps if you play, which I don’t} 😉

Fast forward to another day of returning home to another shock, though this one so SOOO much better ~ and that was even before we opened the front door.  We found a note taped to the storm door encouraging us to enter the house together for a magical surprise!  Cautiously opening the front door we were greeted by a living room of beautiful furniture, artfully arranged,  a new set of dishes {that I still use to this day}, silverware, glassware ~ beds for everyone!  A true miracle to behold.

My best friend, along with several kind and generous people from our church, donated all that we could possibly need.  To this day, remembering the generosity of my church family leaves me feeling astounded, awed, blessed; so very blessed.  I had been at a loss as to how I could replace an entire house of furniture on a single mom income and a not-for-profit salary, as well.  The generosity and kindness of those individuals, many who gave anonymously, without any expectations in return, is the truest sense of “loving your brother as yourself.”

The 13th Gift takes this mandate and helps a family to heal from the loss of a beloved father and husband.  A legacy of generosity can create memories that reverberate beyond the moment and outshine the brightest of heirloom ornaments. (p. 201)

Have you ever been the recipient of surprising acts of kindness?  

Share with us your remarkable moments of “loving your brother as yourself!”  

6 Responses to “Kindness Makes All the Difference”

  1. Joanne Huist Smith

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. You inspire me. It took courage to face that empty house – especially with children at your side – with laughter and with song. How wonderful your community stepped up to help. The goodness in people never ceases to amaze me.

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