23 Acts Of Kindness From 'Hey Arnold' To Inspire You This Holiday Season
Retreating into the cozy bed of nostalgia seems like a quitter's move in these trying times, but oh, I’m already fluffing the pillows. Since it seems like everything is falling apart, it’s much easier to lose yourself in old episodes of Hey Arnold! than deal with reality... why is that, though? I’d like to think it’s partially because Hey Arnold! was a show that celebrates human kindness in a cold and callous world, and more than ever, we should take its messages to heart.
Now, what makes the show especially unique is that it was constantly humanizing the cartoon inhabitants of Arnold’s mock-Brooklyn community. Sure, Arnold himself was a perpetual do-gooder, someone righteous and optimistic in the face of struggle. However, Hey Arnold! was always willing to pull back the layers and showcase the soft sides of its antagonists and urban legends alike. Hell, despite her abrasiveness Helga routinely redeems her bad behavior with good deeds, even if it is just to make her true love happy.
So because the holidays are approaching, the apocalypse may be approaching, and we have a general need for all of us to be better, maybe you can draw something positive and proactive from nostalgia. Take a tip from the football-headed hero and his kin with these acts of kindness from Hey Arnold! — and what you can learn from them.
1. When Arnold Worked Hard To Make Things Right With Eugene After Accidentally Destroying His Bike
Lesson: Some people are just bastions of bad luck (see: your friend-of-a-friend who's constantly crowdsourcing on Facebook for their affliction-of-the-month) and no matter how hard they try, keep running into trouble. Frustrating and discouraging as it may feel, they usually appreciate your efforts.
2. When Arnold & Grandma Freed Lockjaw from Captivity
Lesson: Sometimes the "right thing" and the "legal thing" don't quite overlap. Look to yourself (or your crazy grandma) to see which side "justice" falls on.
3. When Helga Sacrificed Comfort & Hygiene To Find Arnold's Hat
Lesson: It's important to respect and recognize the sentimental value in our loved one's material items, even if it means getting a little dirty in the quest to find them.
4. When Arnold Encouraged Stoop Kid To Visit Stoops All Over The World
Lesson: A gentle way to bait people out of their comfort zone is with the things they love.
5. When Arnold Saved The Circle Theater And His Relationship With Ernie By Having Dino Spumoni Vouch For The Building's Historical Status
Lesson: When it comes to problem-solving between two conflicting individuals, you want to focus on their commonalties versus what drives them apart.
6. When The Adults Band Together To Create A Baseball Field For The Kids
Lesson: A very mature thing to do is to think of what's best for the community, instead of what's best for yourself.
7. When Grandpa Let Arnold Quit His Snow-Time Chores & Be A Kid
Lesson: While work ethic is important, you shouldn't deny someone the opportunity to let loose and have fun.
8. When Arnold Tries To Play Cupid With Oskar & Suzie, Before Ultimately Flipping Out On Oskar For Being Selfish
Lesson: Sometimes it takes a hard truth to force someone to act.
9. When Arnold & Gerald Do A Bunch Of Christmas Errands To Help Locate Mr. Hyunh's Daughter
Lesson: Helping during the holidays usually produces positive results... usually.
10. And Then When Helga Sacrifices Her Nancy Spumoni Boots To Inadvertently Help Out Arnold In This Quest
Lesson: Pulling a Gift Of The Magi is also pretty effective.
11. When Big Patty Only Pretended To Beat Up Helga After Arnold Appealed To Her Good Nature
Lesson: It's far better to forgive and look to the good in people, even after they've hurt you.
12. When Arnold Tutored Torvald, So His Mom Would Be Proud Of Him
Lesson: Behind every bully is a small child who just wants approval of their parents (or not, although this show makes a decent case for that idea).
13. When Arnold Restored Pigeon Man's Faith In Human Kindness, Despite Others Trashing His Home
Lesson: One person can make a difference in a cruel cruel world, even if in the end someone flies off with a whole bunch of birds.
14. When Harold Gave Cupcake The Cat Back To His Actual Owner
Lesson: Even unexpected folk have a deep capacity for love, and though it may be hard at first (and the police start getting involved), eventually that love will force you to do what's best for your new pet.
15. When The 4th Grade Girls Apologized To Liza For Being So Wicked To Her After Seeing & Understanding Her Struggles
Lesson: Human empathy can conquer jealousy and deep-rooted insecurities. And once it does, it's really important to communicate your regrets and extend an olive branch.
16. When The Students Band Together To Make Mr. Simmons Their Teacher Again
Lesson: Sometimes you don't realize how great someone is until they're gone, and to get them back you have to show them that you were really listening the whole time.
17. When Rhonda Fought For The Geeks To Get Better Seating On The Bus, Rosa Parks Style
Lesson: OK, this one was a little bit self-serving, since those glasses forced her into a lesser social standing. Regardless, there's no harm in striving for equality.
18. When Helga Comforts Phoebe After Ronnie Matthews Let Her Down
Lesson: Even if you disapprove of your friend's affection (or realize that her pop idol is actually awesome in his awfulness), it's important to put your feelings aside and be there for her, non-judgmentally.
19. When Arnold Throws A Geek Party To Combat Rhonda's Cool Party (OK, Her Lesson Didn't Really Stick) & Then Let's Her Join When Everyone Ditches Her Party
Lesson: Inclusiveness is better than exclusiveness (side bar, how great is that screenshot?).
20. When Helga (Who Actively Roots Against Her Sister's Happiness) Uproots Her Disloyal Jerk Fiancé & Pens A Loving Fake Letter Explaining Why He Left
Lesson: While honesty is 99.9 percent of the time the right move, sometimes a white lie is the best way to spare someone's feelings... and a lifetime of unhappiness.
21. When Mr. Simmons Explains That His Messy & Argumentative Thanksgiving May Seem Odd, It's Worth It To Try To Bring His Loved Ones Together
Lesson: No family is perfect, and no matter how dysfunctional yours may seem, it's still usually worth the effort to try and make it work for the holidays.
22. When Liza Let Helga Take The Role Of Juliet, Because Helga Admitted She Likes Arnold
Lesson: When it comes to matters of love, it's very generous to let someone be closer to their crush... and then not blab about said crush to the entire school.
23. When Arnold Ended Grandpa & Mitzi's Feud By Making Them Confront The Issue Of Who Allowed Pooter's Unfortunate Demise
Lesson: A good way to mediate is by looking into what caused the initial rift.
See? Hey Arnold! and its acts of kindness can inspire you to be a better person this holiday season.
Images: Nickelodeon (24)