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No Gift For My Birthday? Don’t Worry. I’ve Got The Perfect Idea!

Guess what?

It’s my birthday!

No. Really. It is. Today. My birthday.

Awww, don’t feel bad that you didn’t get me anything. I just sprung it on you – I gave you no time to shop. But you can make it up to me. I have an idea for a really awesome gift for yours truly. Hang on until the end of this post and I’ll let you know what it is.

You have to suffer through this little story first…

I was at the grocery store. Again. My cupboard is bare. (Little old Mother Hubbard that I am.) I have participated in 3 (count ’em, 1-2-3) canned good drives already and it’s only the first of December. So, I was at the grocery store buying “spare” canned goods for the drive this weekend. And I pulled up to a stoplight.

A man is standing there with a cardboard sign, “Stranded. Need Help!”

A woman a few cars up, rolls down her window and hands him a small wad of cash. He takes it. Nods his thanks. I’m sitting in my car with bags of canned goods. I can’t hand him a can. (I’m guessing he doesn’t have a can-opener on him) And I can’t hand him cash.

Well, I could. But I’m a Give-A-Man-A-Fish-He-Eats-For-A-Day-But-Teach-A-Man-To-Fish-He Eats-For-A-Lifetime kind of girl.

And I’m on my way to Starbucks, right across the street. (Spoiled little suburbanite – that’s me!) So, I’ll get him a coffee. It’s cold, wet and rainy. A cup of coffee will warm him up a bit.

I’m waiting in line. And it’s a scene straight out of “Animal House.”

Angel Jane: A cup of coffee? Don’t be such a cheap skate. Get him some food!

Devil Jane: Food? What he really wants is cash to support his meth habit. Put your money away.

Angel Jane: But what if he really needs help?

Devil Jane: There are two churches right down the street. Goodwill around the corner. And a whole host of other charitable organizations just itching to help someone this time of year. AND – you’ve already donated to a bunch of them already. If he needs help, it’s easy to find.

Angel Jane: A little food. What’s the harm in that? Now…how about the protein plate? Apples, cheese, hardboiled egg and grapes. It’s only $4.75!

Devil Jane: A protein plate? Are you kidding? He wants another beer I’m tellin’ ya. Now put your money away!

(I put my $10 back in my wallet and pull out a $20)

Angel Jane: She’s right. A protein plate is silly. And the Turkey/Swiss sandwich is only $5.95. Get that. It’s more filling.

Devil Jane:  He wants cash. For drugs. Put that money back in your wallet!

This goes on for quite a while. The drive-thru line is long. And I’m honestly pulling out a $10, putting it back in my wallet and then pulling out a $20, putting that back and pulling out the $10 again. On and on it goes.

Finally, it’s my turn. I hand the cashier my $20. (Angel Jane won!)

“The woman ahead of you paid for your drink,” the barista says to me, “She wanted me to wish you a Merry Christmas!”

Someone pulled a Random Act of Kindness on Jane! Me! Lil’ ol’ me! Three days before my birthday! Woo-hoo!

“Then I’m really supposed to do this,” I say to the cashier. “Can I please have a turkey sandwich, as well?”

I pay for the sandwich. (Still so stunned that someone bought me a coffee that I don’t think to pay for the car behind me until I’m driving away. Doh!)

And as I’m waiting at the light to cross the intersection I see the police car picking him up. Apparently, stranded beggars are not allowed on this street corner.

So, I tried. And after that whole exchange between Angel me and Devil me I’ve decided Angel me should win. With a sandwich, at least. I will still not hand out cash but what’s the harm in handing someone a sandwich?

And did I tell you it’s my birthday?

Can you guess what I want for my birthday?

(Ah. You know me so well!)

Yes. I’d like all of you to spread a random acts over the weekend. Yes you, Angel Joe, Angel Wendy, Angel Shannon, Angel Elastamom and Angel Steven! No hiding Angel subwow, Angel Lisa, Angel Mel, Angel Jeanne, Angel Rudrip and Angel Gale. C’mon Angels Kenzie and Katybeth and Kristen and Carol. Calling Angel Thoughtsappear, Angel Aiden, Angel Teachergirl, Angel Lynn, Angel Beary, Angel Lies. And even two of my favorite, lovable (and self-proclaimed) curmudgeons Angel Shout and Angel Kitch. No ducking out on this one! (Boy. Aren’t you all sorry you welcomed me back? 😉 )

ALL of you Angel Jane readers out there – c’mon. It’ll be fun! A little joy for a stranger. It doesn’t have to be a cup of (overpriced) coffee. It could be a sandwich. Or loading their groceries while they buckle their kids in the car. Or purchasing a little poinsettia plant and leaving it anonymously on your elderly neighbor’s doorstep. You could make cookies for your local firefighters. Pay the toll for the person behind you or put quarters in the parking meter. Bring some books you’ve already read to a nursing home. Or one of your brilliant ideas. Any charitable act will do!

That’s all I want for my birthday. Because you all know how much I love a little Random Act of Kindess. Nothin’ big. Nothin’ fancy. But something that is sure to put you into the holiday spirit, too!

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Filed under Be-Causes, Completely Random, Holiday, How We Roll, Observations

When Father’s Day Is A Fat Hen’s Day

(Warning: Possible downer post below. I say possible because I’m not sure how I’ll end this. I’m not feeling hugely optimistic and upbeat, learning some kind of lesson through it all. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to see a bright, beautiful rainbow at the end of this post. I truly have no idea where this post is going to lead me. All I know is I feel crummy in this moment.)

I’m writing this on Father’s Day night. But not posting it for a few days. I want the fun and the good thoughts and the raves about all the dads out there to die down. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade.

Don’t get me wrong. The Father’s Day we had, together as a family (kids and me and my husband) was awesome. We went hiking. We ate at my husband’s favorite German restaurant. We came home and he napped. Then, it was off to Tai Chi class. It was the perfect day for him. And I’m so glad.

But my phone call with my own father, 1000 miles away. Lackluster. Awkward. And sad.

The very first Father’s Day gift I ever remember giving him was a card. A card I had made. Out of construction paper and crayons. And he laughed. “Fat Hen’s Day? What in the world is Fat Hen’s Day?” I was probably about 7 or 8. With the penmanship of a 7 or 8 year old. I was crushed. I had worked hard on that card. So there was a space between the t and h of father. So my r dipped down a little and looked more like an n. He didn’t have to laugh. And it didn’t have to be part of the family jokes in the years to come. “Hey, isn’t Fat Hen’s Day coming up?”

Reflecting on this early memory? It feels a little out of place. I have so many happy, fun, loving memories of my father. He was silly. He loved puns. He could always make us laugh. But my Fat Hen’s Day card? In that moment, I was the butt of the joke. And it didn’t feel good.

And then there was last year.

I have always given my parents something, some kind of gift for Mother’s and Father’s day. My husband would just call and sometimes send a card to his parents. It wasn’t until we were married that he (and by that, I mean I) started sending a little gift. His parents were always so appreciative.

There was always a twinge of expectation with my own parents. And last year was no exception.

My dad, a voracious reader, would appreciate a gift card to Barnes and Noble, right? Of course right. (You can’t buy my dad a book because invariably, he’s already read it.) When I called him on Father’s Day, he thanked me for the gift card and said, “Yeah, I’ll be able to buy a…..newspaper with it.” And laughed. Money was tight for us. I couldn’t afford a lavish gift that year. I sat there stunned. And then defended my gift, suggesting some latest new releases (in hardcover) that he’d be able to purchase with his card. My heart sank. I’d disappointed him again.

This year I didn’t send a gift. I sent a card. I called. And he spent the conversation sharing with me all the things my sisters were doing for him. The gifts received. Blah, blah, blah. I barely listened. I’m tired of feeling hurt.

He and I used to have a close relationship. Well, a closer relationship. A relationship my mother was always so very jealous of. And so, my mother has come between us and we barely have a relationship at all.

When the conversation came to a close I said, “Well, I hope you have a great day, Dad. I love you!” And he said, “Thanks for calling.”

Click.

No “I love you, too.”

I suppose that was my sting for this year.

(And because I can’t possibly end on that sad note I’ll share with you a favorite clip from Bill Cosby. One of my dad’s favorite comedians – and one we thought my dad resembled: sense of humor, facial expressions. I could use a little giggle right about now.)

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Filed under family, Lessons Learned