Susan Vollenweider - Kindness is always in season

09/13/2013 8:05 AM

09/13/2013 8:06 AM

Every family has its annual quirks, seasonal events that consistently mark the passing of time. In our house, our Welcome to Fall quirk involves flu shots.

This is also the topic of our longest lasting marital debate. Not

if we should get them — Brian and I can agree on that — but when

to get them.

I like to wait until it’s cold outside.

My husband likes to get them as soon as they are available — early September.

I usually bow out in favor of his (wrong but not harmful) opinion.

However, I like to go down swinging. Saturday began with the last round of debate and I was quite grumbly because I had lost, again. Double the grumble and pass it around, the whole family was up early to partake in the family outing.

The plan was this: flu shots, clothing shopping for the boys, Homecoming dress shopping for the girls, meet back for lunch, stop at the grocery store and then home.

We tried to put on our smiley-isn’t-this-grand?-family-time faces, but none of us was believably chipper.

And none of us got that way.

We were early to the clinic, but people were ahead of us so we had to wait.

After dividing to shop, Bekah and I were still loading up the dressing room when the boys began to text us.

“We’re done. How long?”

I sent send them on to lunch without us so we could finish.

My menfolk must have a different speed setting than I do. They flew through lunch and we had just narrowed the choices down to three dresses by the time they were back. The texts began again.

“We’re here.”

“We’re waiting.”

“How long does this take?”

By the time we got to the grocery store I was ready to be done. If I had been cranky before we left home, I was Mama Grumpy Gills pushing a shopping cart through the aisles.

Then something happened.

A coupon.

Well, technically three coupons.

While I was putting things from the cart onto the checkout conveyer belt, Brian was micromanaging the bagger at the other end.

Then Luke took off back into the store.

“Where’s he going?” I asked Brian.

“We get a box of Hot Pockets free.”

I didn’t quite understand why, but I’m not one to question free groceries. When I finally stood in front of the cashier she was rifling through a colorful duct tape-covered box that sat on her register. She pulled out a couple of coupons and dinged them across the reader.

I looked at the stations of the other cashiers.

“Is the store trying something new?” I asked when I didn’t see similar boxes in the other aisles.

“I work hard for my money, and I know that others do, too,” she told me. Then she pointed to a cute couple in line behind me and explained that they were just two of the people who donate coupons to her project.

The couple waved and smiled at me.

I smiled back.

Random acts of kindness are nothing new but sometimes people need a reminder. How hard is it to model this for our children? Take a walk and move neighbors’ trash cans from the curb, wave a thanks or let an extra car ahead of you in the drop-off lane. Create a seasonal Family Kindness Quirk.

Give kindness.

That Saturday I received the kindness.

And it changed everything.

My day went from crappy to happy with three coupons and a smile.

Maybe if we spend some time trying be kind, eventually we won’t have to try. We will simply be.

Join the Discussion

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service