For the last 3 days of 2016 I was so sick and I missed out on the “Hood Party”. The Hood being my parent’s cul-de-sac neighbors. During the year, they do pajama breakfasts, help each other with anything, share swimming pools, take care of each other’s dogs, meet out front with your favorite beverages kind of things. New Year’s Eve is no exception to the camaraderie and revelry that ooze out of this 7 home block in North Phoenix.
Fire pits, deep frying turkey, games, laughter, friends, families, food (lots of food) and a bit of alcohol combined with a walk home policy, create a memorable and safe time. The same party occurred this year without me and frankly, I was too sick to care.
The next morning, having 24 hours of antibiotics in me, I decided I had to get out and go to the store or go stir crazy. I think I went for milk but seriously the following events have washed my memory of the store visit. What is clear as a bell is my parent’s car was in my spot in the driveway and all the doors and trunk were open with no one in site when I got home. I came into the house and found my mom and husband trying to squeeze every leftover from the party into my fridge! Oh the joy! Something for sure to celebrate! The best mom ever! Leftovers – Bruschetta, turkey soup, bean dip, pie, dips, cheese, crackers, veggies and so much more.
But during the rest of the week as I curl up on the couch continuing my healing and eating leftovers, I began to think of other leftovers. Some I had just witnessed in the last few weeks.
The mom and small child I saw in the grocery store just before Christmas; Child in basket seat, mom texting while leaning on the basket ignoring the child. I pass them several times with the same scenario. Mother never talks to the child even when he reaches his hands up to the side of her face and says Mom, mom, mom. She pulls away and turns from him to text some more. No acknowledgement from mom. Leftovers.
Wife and husband shopping, wife asks husband’s opinion, completely shuts him down with “That’s a stupid idea”. Leftovers.
Family gets together for dinner at a restaurant and when asked what husband got for Christmas, a voice filled with disdain tells of the gift wife thought he would like. Leftovers.
Grandma is invited to dinner but no one talks to her. Leftovers.
The cashier at the store welcomes her, she grunts. While the cashier works quickly the customer questions everything. She has matching coupons for everything as in a completely full basket of everything. I am standing behind her trying to figure out two things; where did she get all the coupons and what other line looks like a better choice. Since it’s just before Christmas, there is no other ‘better choice’ in my opinion. However, every other person in line looks around and leaves. The customer’s voice is heard by all the new people as they approach this lane and they choose wisely, 2 or 3 lanes down. I on the other hand, stand there, next in line and listen.
Yes ma’am. Yes. Alright. That’s a good buy. Each comment the customers makes regarding her coupons receives acknowledgment from the cashier. She looks up with warm brown eyes occasionally to clarify a coupon or item. The customer is very business like and focused on her goal. The cashier is intent on creating a positive, quality experience ensuring that there is never a harsh or exasperated reply. she completes the order and wishes the customer a Happy Holidays then turns, looks at me and greets me with a smile.
Emotional leftovers happen all too often in our world. The customer treated the cashier as a worker, almost a robot or machine, something without feelings or emotions. Leftovers. The cashier on the other hand, was humanity at it’s finest, celebrating the customer.
How can we celebrate the people in our lives instead of dishing up leftovers? Be a the cashier – She can teach us a few things.
First and foremost, look at them. That person whether relative, friend or stranger is a creation of God. Acknowledge that with your eyes. When is the last time you looked at your teenager, spouse or aging parent with a sense of awe? They are made in God’s image after all.
Listen to them and let them know that their words are worth your time. They may have a harsh tone, they may repeat themselves or you may not agree with what they say but you can still understand that they as a human have worth and listen.
Rather than arguing with them, ask questions to clarify what they are trying to say or need. Think of a toddler who is telling you over and over again what they want and you try so hard to understand. Why don’t we try harder to understand big people?
When your interaction is ending, send them off with genuine goodwill. They may have caused you irritation, been a royal pain and dished out some leftovers, but you, I , we all need to choose to celebrate humanity.
We are not responsible for how others treat us and no one should accept abuse, ever. But in everyday life here on this beautiful plant, don’t dish out leftovers my friends unless they come from a Hood Party, those are the good ones!
Celebrating with you,