Monday, December 03, 2007

What's Normal?

Mr. Burns and I are so looking forward to Christmas. Neither of us are going home to our families… we’re just going to stay here together. Yay.

Yesterday Mr. Burns suggested that it might be a better use of our time to do something for others on Christmas. Maybe serve food at the Mission, something like that.
That led us into a conversation about generosity, and the question of whether we are matched in that area. I think we are.

We both agree that it doesn’t take much to do something great for others. Whether it’s inviting someone in need of companionship to your house for dinner or giving money to charity, or to someone who needs it. To me… it’s simple kindness. And that goes back to how we were raised.

My parents were never the type to invite a stranger for dinner, but they are still outstanding examples of generosity.

They were such a good influence that growing up… I simply thought this is what people do. You tell me. Is this normal?

See, my parents are farmers. During the 1980s my dad was smart and savvy enough to snap up the land of an adjoining farm when the estate went up for sale. My mom spent her days fixing up the old farm house, painting and cleaning to get it ready for renters.

One day on the school bus ride home, we drove past one my neighbor’s homes. It had been standing when we went to school that morning. On the ride home, we were stunned when we passed the burned down rubble. The home of a family of seven was gone.

A mile later, I was home and heard all about the fire. Along with that story, I was informed that the ladies of our church joined my mom to finish painting the house so our suddenly homeless neighbors would have shelter for their large family.
Furniture, linens and extra clothes were all provided by dinner time that evening.

They lived in that three bedroom house while their home was rebuilt. I don’t know the details, but I’m sure it was rent free.

Because of so many similar examples, I feel that is just what people do. If you want and I have… here… have.

Mr. Burns reminded me that that’s not typical. And in today’s world I think it’s not. But he points out that it wasn’t typical 30 years ago either.

Is he right? Is this exceptional? Is it about the big hearts in our small farming community or is truly odd behavior?

I’m so thankful that I was raised with that example of kindness. I hope if I have children one day, I can provide a similar example to them.


  1. There is no question that you are one of the most generous souls I know and no, I'm not so sure that it's common place. Your parents have taught you how to be a good human being by doing what is right regardless of the sacrifice.

  2. Thank you Kelly!

    I actually don't think I'm particularly generous. I know I could do a lot more.

    But I have a fine example - that's for certain.

    And I'm so glad to have found a man with a heart like my parent