Oh No! It’s Time to Be Kind Again!


2014-12-02 – The email came yesterday morning. Oy! Not again.

They’re going to be coming every morning. Last year I asked for it. This year I didn’t. They apparently think that, since I was down with it last year, I’m down with it again this year. (More on being “down” with things in a minute.)

The thing that I am down with is the Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar. This is a scheme that sends you an email every day from December 1 until Christmas. The advent calendars I am familiar with give you a piece of chocolate every day in December. This one takes away your chocolate and demands that you perform an act of kindness for someone every single day. Losing the chocolate is bad enough. But performing acts of kindness is really too much.

I wrote about the Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar last year. I’m a Jew, of course, so I have no reason to participate in this mishugas. Hell, most Christians don’t perform acts of kindness during advent. Instead, they shop. So, why should I be participating? Just because I don’t like to shop?

Last year, it was an experiment. This year? Well, I am apparently still on the mailing list. They didn’t ask.

You might say that we all have a moral obligation to be kind. But morality at least has the decency to stay out of your in-box. For nearly a month, I will be barraged with a daily reminder.

Character spam.

If I wanted to have character, I would have signed up . . . oops, I guess I did sign up for it. Just not this year!

I just want you to know one thing: if I do something kind for you, it’s not sincere.

* * *

Now that that’s out of the way, I have to talk about this idiom of “being down” with things. It apparently means that you are “okay” with something. That participating is agreeable and you are willing. I heard this from my son Cal. He’s down with lots of things.

He believes that the expression is derived from the act of putting something down in your appointment book, or some such thing. “I’m having a party, can I put you down for attending.” I’m a little skeptical about that. It doesn’t have sufficient sarcasm. These days, idioms are required to be sarcastic.

Here’s my theory. It is derived from the way we talk about disease, especially communicable disease. For example: “I think I’m coming down with a cold.” Or “I’m down with Ebola.” You wouldn’t say that you are agreeable with having a cold. Nor would you say that you are willing to have Ebola.

It’s the same thing when I say that I am down with getting an Acts of Kindness email, I mean it in the same sense as if I was down with some dread disease.

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