Nicole J. Phillips / Forum News Service
Don’t cringe if you hate Valentine’s Day. Keep reading. I’m about to share an incredible lesson from a 6-year-old. Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that is filled with expectations. If there is a sweetheart involved, we tend to expect that person to love us a little better on this particular day. If expectations aren’t met, we may wish the entire world would just go away or be very quiet about their own happiness while we work through our disappointment.
Weigh in on this for me: Is it more fun to be a parent or grandparent? I feel like I might know the answer based on the letters I received recently from some readers who make kindness a priority in the time they spend with their grandchildren. Judi Sebeck, of Deerwood, Minn., sent in this story of kindness that almost went unnoticed. “Our great-grandson, Caleb, is 8 years old. In his second grade class there is a boy named Carson who has Down syndrome.
Crime shows, murder-mysteries, suspense novels... are you hooked? Do you love the adrenaline rush that comes from not knowing what will come next? Not me. I like everything laid out and unfolding according to plan. If I can guess what happens next in a show, even better. Life sometimes has a bit of mystery to it, and that’s not all bad. Sarah VanRoekel, from Boyden, Iowa, sent in this story of the mystery of a fancy car and a paid hotel room.
I lost my dear friend, Tom, just before Christmas. He was in his late 80s and his quality of life was diminishing, but even so, it’s hard to say goodbye. One of the great gifts of these past six months was the amount of times I was able to visit Tom and his wife, Ann. My family’s move from Ohio to South Dakota meant I was only three hours away. Being far away from a loved one is hard, especially when it’s time to say that final goodbye.
A friend of mine has a Snoopy blanket that was worn thin by her childhood. She grasped that little blanket tightly in her hands every time she faced abuse. She kept the blanket all these years as a reminder of her faith and the strength we're given to endure the terrible times. Bad things — really bad things — happen sometimes. We can look around, resigned that the entire world is beaten, or we can choose to see the people who are working to make even the worst times a little brighter.
FARGO — Have you heard of the Elf on the Shelf? We have one living with us. He magically arrived one day back when my kids (now teenagers) were toddlers. His name is Carl. The kids knew never to touch Carl or he would lose his ability to fly back to the North Pole each night and tell Santa how good the kids were being. Every morning, our little elf finds a new place to hide in the living room or kitchen. Carl used to be so sweet and do nice things like spell out “Hello” with Cheerios.
My fourth grade son, Ben, told me his teacher pretends to vomit anytime the kids start bickering with each other in his class. Isn’t that hysterical? Instead of yelling or raining down punishment, the teacher just walks over and pretends to gag. The kids immediately realize what they’re doing and are distracted enough to let it go. The principal in that same school brought Ben a chocolate bar when the Packers beat the Vikings and let him sit in his office when Ben was having a tough time transitioning to his new school.
I feel sorry for people who live in warm climates. They never get to experience the incredible kindness that comes in the middle of a massive snowstorm. Over Thanksgiving weekend, my family drove from Aberdeen, S.D., to Moorhead for my husband’s basketball game. A friend let us stay at her house while she was gone for the weekend. Our little tribe can fill up a house in a hurry, so it was a blessing not to have to stay in a hotel.
FARGO — I grew up with a second family. The Balkanskys took me in when I was in eighth grade and they still haven’t let me go. I traveled with them on vacations and rolled my eyes like a belligerent teenager when they gave me unsolicited advice. Without fail, I always knew they loved me. I was especially touched by this letter sent in by Barb Grosz, of Aberdeen, S.D., because I can see so much of myself in her young friend, Harley, and I know what a difference their kindness is truly making in her life. Here’s Barb’s letter:
TRAM (The Ride Across Minnesota) is a five-day bicycle ride that raises money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. While I love the idea of being active for a great cause, biking isn’t my thing. But it is Harvey Laabs’ thing. He’s from West Fargo, and has been crossing the North Dakota/Minnesota border for TRAM since 1991. Here’s his story.