There is a flower arrangement sitting on my kitchen table. It is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, with red roses along with Stargazer lilies.

Do you want to hear something that will make you groan out loud? Stargazers are my favorite flowers because way back when Saul and I were dating, he brought me Stargazers the first time I anchored a news show. The note he wrote said, “Because every time I look at you, I’m gazing at a star.”

Yep. That happened. So sweet and so groan-worthy.

The flowers I got this time came with a note that simply said, “Love Saul.” I called my husband to thank him for the surprise delivery. Imagine his hemming and hawing as he tried to explain they weren’t from him. The flowers were actually sent from Northwestern Mutual.

I had spoken at a quarterly meeting and mentioned something about my husband and his non-flowery ways of loving me. The branch manager is hysterical and thought it would be awfully funny to send me flowers. From Saul. Without Saul knowing.

The gesture hit its mark because I was both overcome by this act of kindness and filled with glee at putting my husband on the spot. (We’ve been married 20 years. I knew right away they weren’t from him.)

It’s the people and acts of kindness that show up unexpectedly in our lives that often bring the most delight. Like the neighbor girls who have befriended a recently widowed man in Idaho. They are making sure he has plenty of reasons to smile.

“There are four grade-school girls who live at the end of our one-block-long street; two are from one family, two are from another. All the rest of us homeowners are ‘over 29.’ I happen to be in my mid-80s.

“When the leaves dropped off my maple tree last fall and were rakeable, I was planning to get the job done when the girls showed up one day and asked if they could rake the lawn for me. I couldn’t say ‘Yes’ fast enough! They even refused to let me pay them.

“Just before Christmas, the doorbell rang to reveal the four girls, who thereupon sang me a Christmas carol.

“On New Year’s Day, the doorbell rang again. This time I got a small handwritten invitation from the girls to watch a parade. I and others of us on the block went out at the appointed time, and here came the girls, dressed in Disney costumes, singing songs (which I didn’t understand), and being led by a big white fluffy dog with a bow around its neck. How cool is all that, anyway?

“I wrote them all thank you notes, and darned if they didn’t show up the next day and thanked me for thanking them! I hope one of them runs for president some day.”

Flowers, Christmas carols or parades, whatever you do to delight someone else matters.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.