Wednesday, January 12, 2011

unexpected kindness

I have to confess that swapping online can sometimes be a chancy prospect. I join most swaps for the pleasure of creating something and just hope for something fun in return--and I'm lucky that I've mostly been paired with great partners who have sent me many unexpected and wonderful presents.

One thing I've never been able to understand, though, is when people say they will do something and then they just...don't. How is it possible to make a commitment and not fulfill it? If something comes up, as things sometimes do, shouldn't you at least let your partner know?

I've been really bothered about this for the past few months, since a number of issues came up over the holidays. I've been pretty lucky in that I've only been completely flaked on a couple of times this year, once for the Design a Calling Card swap and for an ornament swap through another blog. But several people flaked on the Little House Christmas swap, most of them apparently quite deliberately, which left their partners disappointed and empty-handed. For a big package. At Christmas time. With an incredibly sentimental theme.

I was pretty heartsick over the whole thing. Even though I wasn't personally flaked on, I don't like for members in my groups to be disappointed or to go through unpleasant swapping experiences...and I felt a huge responsibility for this since we had several people join Swap-Bot specifically just so they could participate in that particular exchange.

But the amazing thing was that so many wonderful people stepped in to help as soon as they heard what had happened. Each of the missing swaps was "angeled" by other Hundred Acre Wood members, who volunteered to send extra packages for no reason other than that they are kind and generous people. Naomi sent one to Paris, and chickadeebijoux (Courtney) sent one to England...and there were more volunteers besides. I can't thank them enough for being so quick to respond to their fellow members, and for filling the stockings full of meaningful presents despite the holiday rush. These ladies also braved an extra trip to the post office just a couple of days before Christmas, and for their modern-day "swim across the creek with precious presents on their heads" efforts, they both certainly deserve the Mr. Edwards Award for going above and beyond to make someone else's Christmas special.

I sent out an angel package as well, and it was a pleasure to do since ftdlynn "adores" Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was enough for me that she received something she really enjoyed...but to my great surprise, I also received a "thank you" package from her in return this week. Teresa sent me a beautiful hand-tatted piece that she watched a local craftswoman create in Texas, a set of book plates, and a variety of bookmarks featuring books and quotes that I love. Best of all, however, she enclosed a wonderful note to express her appreciation and thanks. It made me a little teary, because it was so completely unnecessary, but so incredibly sweet--and it more than made up for the frustration I experienced. It can sometimes be a lot of work to host a swap or to head up a group, but the efforts are rewarded tenfold by what I receive in return.

So in spite of the occasional Grinch, it's because of people like Teresa and Naomi and Courtney that it's a pleasure to swap on Swap-Bot. Beyond the wonderful presents they send, it just lifts the spirit and gladdens the heart to be reminded that there is such beauty and kindness in human nature. It's that same lump-in-the-throat feeling I get every time I watch It's a Wonderful Life; life, and people, are wonderful indeed.

 Photo #2 courtesy of Courtney.


  1. What a lovely post! Thank you for hosting such wonderful swaps on Swap-bot.

    Running Swap-bot presents similar challenges. It is discouraging to deal with flakers (and even scammers - ugh!), but when we really run the numbers, the amount of amazing, generous, excellent swappers (like you!) far outweighs the few bad apples.

  2. Thanks for running this great swap. I found the Little House swap when it was mentioned on the Beyond Little House blog. Prior to that, I had never heard of swap-bot. I appreciate your giving us Swap-bot newbies a chance. It was a fun swap and has led to my happy participation in many others. I think I may become a Swap-bot regular.

  3. I agree! Some people are SOOO nice. The ones who aren't are heart-breaking, but then a ray of sunshine bursts through and it is worth it all to read that note that makes you weep or hear about that selfless thing one person did for another. :) And you make swap-bot a nicer place, too.


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