How Much is That Doggy in the Window

When I was little, I used to follow my brother Adam around like a puppy.  In fact, his wrestling team gave me the nickname lil' pinner because not only did I look like Adam, but because I would follow him around at his wrestling meets, often times wearing his sweathsirt, eating Jello jigglers, and practicing my wrestling moves on the mat.  I wanted to be just like him, even in his wrestling skills... which were superior enough to earn him 2nd in State his junior year, and also the nickname Pinner.  As I shared earlier, my brother passed away on Halloween night when he was a senior in high school.  That night, I had unknowingly walked house to house, trick-or-treating on the same street that he would later be tragically shot and killed.  For my Halloween costume that night, I had dressed up like Adam.

I wore his wrestling singlet, his warm-ups and his headgear.  I was lil' pinner.

If all of my following and idolizing every bothered Adam, he never once let me know.  He tolerated my presence and so did his friends.  Only once did he ever initiate this type of behavior though, and it is one of my favorite memories of Adam.  He actually asked me to follow him around.  We had just gotten a new puppy, a tiny little maltese, named Mia, that was just big enough to stretch to the size of your palm.  I had just finished soccer practice and had gone over to the stadium to watch Adam's soccer game.  I was sitting on the bleachers with Mia sleeping inside my shinguard, on my lap.  After the game, Adam saw his cute little sister, holding a cute little puppy who was sleeping in a tiny shinguard.  He insisted that I follow him around, like a puppy... and with a puppy!  It took me a while to realize why he dragged me around that stadium until every pretty girl got a good look at him in all his tender glory with his baby sister and adorable sleeping puppy.

This memory was sparked by my friend, Chrisann, who volunteers at an Animal Rescue in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Every year they do a big fundraising event and silent auction and she works hard to accumulate items to auction to raise money for food, supplies and medical care for lots of adorable little puppies.  This has to be a thankless job in a lot of ways, so, for Day 12, I mailed two my headbands to Miss Chrisann to go to the highest bidder.  I am sure these will bring in millions upon millioins of dollars. Each.

Actually, I have to admit that today I was a little less others-focused than I have been for most of this month. Instead I was a little more focused on the "oh boy, we are maybe having a baby any minute, which will change the trajectory of our entire lives, for the rest of our lives, so I should complete nine months of nesting in 24 hours just in case because I should be ready for anything... orrrr nothing will happen at all."  So, completing an act of kindness today was not going to happen randomly, it had to be intentional... and I needed back up.

So, I packaged everything up and sent my boys on a mission to the post office.  I handed Harper a candy and gave him clear instructions to give the treat to the postal worker and say "my family is doing 31 days of kindness, so this is for you!"

Instead, Harper said "It's 30 kindness!"

Since the postal worker doesn't speak cryptic five year old, he rejected the treat and sited "I don't eat candy" as his excuse.  Tom politely encouraged him to do the kid a solid and "maybe he could share the candy with a friend."  He accepted, but wasn't really thrilled about it.  The most shocking thing I have learned so far this month is how difficult it is for people to graciously accept kindness from a shady stranger.

I am beyond guilty of this.  I can't even graciously accept a gift (or a even a compliment) from a close friend without a stupid reaction of shock and guilt and fear.  I cannot imagine that this is the joyful response a gift-giver is hoping for.  I must have ruined so many generous moments for people.  I am learning not to rob people of the blessing of giving, because I feel guilty receiving.

I had a little practice with it today when my old friend, Julie, offered to send some baby boy clothes and cloth diapers our way.  My first instinct was to lie and say "No, we don't need anything, we have all things we need, always, everything is fine and we never need. Ever"  I tried a little of that, but she shut me down pretty quick and I am pretty sure the items shipped today.  Too kind.

I get it.  It is hard to accept the baby clothes, or the diapers, or the squashed candy from the boy at the post office.  Honestly though, just take the stinkin' candy bar already and keep your trap shut.  Act excited and blessed and maybe even kiss a lady on the mouth.  That's the fun of giving, and that is what makes it contagious.