On December 22nd each year, Heller’s friends and family honor his memory by spreading random (and deliberate) acts of kindness to others. We encourage you to go out and spread some kindness of your own.
By Hayley Ritz
Two Weeks Before Christmas 2007
There we were, preparing for the holiday season in the cookie cutter routine we followed each and every year before. Our calendar read, “Mail Christmas Cards Today!, Jenny’s Christmas Concert, and Heller in Church Play.” Nine-year-old Heller would be The King this time. In years gone by, he was a shepherd, and before that, a lamb.
The twinkling array of electric-lit snowflakes beckoned to our neighbors from our front lawn, “Merry Christmas!” they seemed to shout out. “Yes, we too are festive!”
Our annual Santa photo was positioned in its dedicated frame upon the piano, and our live, hand-picked tree stood proudly in the corner of the room. Its decorations filled every last branch–thanks to a night of tree-trimming assistance from Heller.
A few chosen charities awaited our donations. That year, we selected Water for Life and ECHO--two organizations that we felt would best turn our meager gifts into small contributions that would ultimately help to change the world. I will admit; we put forth very little effort in our decision. These charities were easily selected because they were the two that Heller chose through his youth program at church and through the Honor Guard at school.
Yes, we were well on our way toward a holly-jolly, conventional Christmas when December 22nd callously appeared out of nowhere and knocked us off of our path, thus changing the course of our lives, and the future of our Christmases forever.
On the day of Heller’s life celebration, his grandmother delivered these words:
“Many people have mentioned the fact that this tragedy (the loss of our sunshine) is heightened by the fact that it happened around Christmas, and they wonder how we will ever get through another Christmas. Christmas is Christ’s day and we will continue to celebrate Jesus on that day! But December 22nd will be a day reserved for celebrating the life of Heller, and we will celebrate on that day (and perhaps a few days prior to) the way he would want us to. On that day, we will go out and make a change, do a good deed, and let the world know that a little boy once lived for that special reason.”
Here, as I post this message, I have the option to share with you a story of sorrow and remembrance, a story you already realize, or at the very least can imagine, in your own minds. Yes, our hearts are damaged. Yes, sometimes we do not know how to go on. We could very easily come face-to-face with December 22nd each year harboring anger, fear, and trepidation, but Heller wouldn’t have it that way.
So, this post, Heller’s website, and each year (as well as the years that follow from here until we may join Heller in eternity) are not intended to deliver melancholy. Our purpose, Because of Heller, is to deliver joy!
If you are reading this, you probably think you already know just how Heller’s family and friends face December 22nd each year. You may have received a reminder card, observed a flyer, or accepted one of Heller’s kindness cards. Each of these state, “Because of Heller, we plan to Spread Random Acts of Kindness on December 22nd.”
The truth is, however, “random acts of kindness” implies chance, arbitrary, haphazard, or accidental acts. Heller’s family, friends, and those new friends who are choosing to join us, know that our plans to deliver acts of kindness on December 22nd are quite intentional. Our acts are not random in any way. They are purposeful, premeditated, deliberate, and planned. Our abilities to perform these acts are a gift from God, given to us because He knew our path would be a difficult one. He knew that “those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” J.M. Barrie
If you would like to find out more about Heller and Kindness Day Because of Heller, go to www.becauseofheller.blogspot.com. Or, you can join our FB group at Random Acts of Kindness Because of Heller 2013.
Very truly yours,