I want to teach my kids two things before I die: 1) the importance of being kind; and 2) the value of a dollar.
The money thing is a little harder. My kids are growing up with so much more than I did, and I don’t always think prosperity is to their advantage. I remember being a child and putting a winter coat on lay-away until my mom could afford to buy it. We had to make hard choices, but doing so made everything we got that much more special.
There is a woman in Fargo named Laura who probably feels much like my own mother felt when shopping. Tough choices have to be made, and when kindness enters the picture, it becomes all the more meaningful. Here is her letter:
“My 9-year-old daughter really needed church shoes and winter boots, so my children and I braved the post-Thanksgiving shopping crowds and went to Kmart.
“We found a cute pair of Disney ‘Frozen’ boots and a nice pair of black church boots. According to the sale sign, if you bought one pair of boots, you could get the other pair for only $1. It turns out the exception to the sale was the Disney boots. They didn’t count.
“I asked a lady who worked at the store if she thought the ‘Frozen’ boots would count as the more expensive pair so the other pair would only be $1. No, she didn’t think so. She smiled and said I should buy them anyway because they were so cute. I said I was planning on it, but money was tight and the ‘Frozen’ ones were $30.
“My 6-year-old son was asking for slippers, and the store employee heard me tell him ‘no’ to the pair he wanted. We moved over to the slipper/sock section to see if they had cozy socks that were more reasonable.
“The lady from the shoe department asked me if I was going to be in that area for a little longer and if I’d wait for her just a bit. A minute later, she came back and was talking to us about the boots and slippers and stuck some money into one of my daughter’s boots. She said it wasn’t much, but it was all she had in her purse and she wanted us to have it. I burst into tears! Even thinking about it now makes me weepy.
“This kind woman talked with the kids and me a little longer before she had to get back to work. When I looked at how much she had given us, I realized it was $30. I left that store feeling so blessed by a stranger’s kindness.” –Laura Hess Ronngren
Thanks for sharing your story, Laura. And thank you to the beautiful woman at Kmart who had a heart to send your daughter home with the perfect pair of boots.
In all you do and all you endeavor to teach your children, I hope kindness tops your list this New Year.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.