Generosity Season is about to start.
I know this. Wal-mart has the clearance Halloween candy exactly three limps from the fall décor. It’s two aisles from the first Duck Dynasty Christmas ornaments. By November, we feel a little of whatever makes Oprah give away free cars and chicken.
We fill grocery sacks with Thanksgiving staples for less fortunate families.
We snag an ornament from a giving tree and buy sneakers and Barbie dolls for anonymous kids. We’ll stuff a box for Operation Christmas Child.
None of this is wrong.
What about now? The time between our levy of parental tax on our kids’ Halloween haul, and giving a hell who plays football this Thanksgiving? Before we thaw turkey and plot Black Friday, let’s try something simple: We show up. When a friend needs a friend.
“Let us know if there’s anything I can do”
We mean well, don’t we? When a friend has a death in the family.
A car wreck or a pet who dies.
As a friend, you just want to do something.
“Let us know if there’s anything we can do.” That’s what friends are for, right?
Do you know Galit Breen?
She writes the blog These Little Waves. She wrote a post recently titled “14,000 ways to be nice to someone when they’re sad.” (That title wins all kinds of SEO points. And who wouldn’t want to know 14,000 ways?)
It didn’t have 14,000 ways, it turns out, but it didn’t need to.
Galit wrote about a friend who, when the Breens received sad news about a pet, who brought over a care package. Another brought chocolate and wine. Others shared text messages and stories of their own similar tough times.
They told of and joyful memories that came along during tough times.
It’s that simple, isn’t it?
You know a friend is hurting.
You also know your gifts.
Meet them in the middle.
When our cat Leo died, the girls’ cousin, no stranger to pet goodbyes, showed up. She lay in bed with her cousins and told stories and cried and hugged.
And before long, the girls popped up and made rock pets, as Grace said, “to make us think of happier things.”
Don’t worry about anything else
My uncle and our former neighbor called me the week after my dad died. They shared stories about my dad that I didn’t know. My boss at the newspaper I worked for sent me a handwritten note to express condolences.
“Take care of your family and don’t worry about anything else,” he wrote.
I had a toddler at home and a wife weathering complications with her second pregnancy at the time.
When I returned to work, I found that my co-workers had covered the time off I needed when my dad was sick. The vacation time I expected to be drained? It was all there.
In tough times, in sad times, in times that felt impossible, there was always some category of love that came through. Right then, in those moments, you want to know you’re surrounded by that kind of love.
You also must exude it.
Sure as times are tough, you’ll survive it. And a friend will send you a text with her sad news.
What can you do? Can you take friends’ kids for a playdate so they can steal some downtime together? Bring your go-to slow-cooker dinner? You know your gifts.
You know your friend.
What have friends done for you?
What can you do for a friend?