The following was written in response to the recent tragedy in my home state. My contribution to the call to turn fear and devastation into kindness and hope. Original here.
* * *
When people complain that the holidays are getting to be too much about the gifts, I wonder, “What’s wrong with that?” A season of giving, appreciating, and recognizing the special people in our lives? I don’t know about you, but that is something I’d love to do more of – not less! I’ve written before about how much I enjoy gift-giving and the ways I’m trying to instill that love in my children. Well, this year is no exception. In fact, this year it feels more important than ever.
This past Sunday evening I sat my 6-year-old son down and told him about the tragedy in a school much like his, in a town much like ours. A hard message to give and receive but I decided to be the one to tell him because I wanted to make sure it came with an important message: even in the face of devastation and fear, we are not powerless. Even when terrible things happen, we can do something about it.
We decided to start by spreading a little hope, in the form of holiday cheer.
One of our favorite things to do this time of year is to drive around and look at Christmas lights. My youngest calls them “Santa lights” and gets especially squeely at the “fwosty no-mans”! Well, it occurred to me that it takes a lot of time and effort to put lights up (which is why ours is the scrooge house on the block without so much as a window candle in sight), and it could be fun to let our neighbors know how much we enjoy their work.
We grabbed a couple booklets of coffee certificates at Dunkin Donuts, attached a note to each and off we went.
Okay, so they were skeptical at first. Which is why it worked to my advantage that there was someone outside of the first house. The neighbor was thrilled to see the kids faces light up at his decorations, to be appreciated, and hey, a free coffee’s not bad either! I had ’em hooked.
We had a blast delivering our notes of appreciation and spreading smiles during a time when tears were far more prevalent. A new family tradition was born!
And the surprise hit of the evening was my wife. Her support of my wacky ideas can come, at times, begrudgingly. Not this time!
Two hours later we had 1 kid passed out cold, another whining about needing to go to the bathroom, a van nearly out of gas, and this one was all, “Come on honey, just one more house!”
Not that I could blame her, it felt so good to act. Love wins.