One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is expanding the focus of Books & Tea. On here, I write about the books I’m reading and how they affect me, or what I like about the tea I’m drinking, but only rarely do I discuss my own feelings and fears.

This runs the risk of making the site seem like nothing more than an inventory, a repository, rather than a living thing. So I want to talk about something a friend of mine did for me last week.

She sent me a package. When my husband told me about it over the phone, I was a bit surprised – I hadn’t ordered anything online recently, and neither was I expecting anyone to send me anything to review. I asked him to open the envelope, and when he told me there was a card inside, I asked him to read it.

It was written by one of my pen pals. She decided to send me a gift to cheer me up because she knew that the outcome to the US election had made me so upset. (I’m still upset. I’m still scared. I don’t think that feeling will go away for the next 4 years, even though I’m somewhat protected by events by virtue of living here in Canada.) When I realized who it was, and that she had sent me something without warning, just to cheer me up even though we’ve never met, I started to cry.

My husband left the rest of the package unopened so I could discover things for myself when I got home. And when I did, it turned out that what awaited me was a David’s Tea advent calendar.

Kindness is what shocked me. I don’t feel I deserve such nice things. But I also realize that if we have to make it through the next few years, we need to be kind. However, there are many different ways to be kind. There’s the soft kindness of unexpected gifts. There’s the strong kindness of showing solidarity. There’s also the hard kindness of telling people things they don’t want to hear because those words are necessary for change.

I need to be kinder to others. I need to be kinder to myself. And I need to be brave, because I’ve lived for a long time in a world that has catered itself to my comfort. I think that comfort will go away soon, and I’m scared, even as I recognize that many others have never had such comfort and are far more justified in their fear. But it helps to know that there are people who see my small fear anyways and respond, even if it’s done in small ways with packets of tea.