So I got bonus time with my 2 younger ones yesterday as the temps somewhat broke and the precipitation abated and the easter egg hunt put on by one of our newest PTO moms at school was officially not canceled. I also got to see the big one when I picked up and dropped off the kids and talk about his weekend a little bit. Awesome.
The story behind this 8th annual egg hunt is the focus of this post because it got me thinking. The woman, and her family, who put this thing on at her house every year does so for charity. Last year was my first in attendance. Her son was in my class last year but also she is from my town. Way before I met her she was close friends with my buddy’s wife who is basically my friend wife and I pretty much love her more than I do him which is saying a lot. Because she’s also from my town, so is her husband. Still planning on writing the post about the town and also about Patience and Dedication, both of which run through this post as well. Last year when I came the kids had something to do with their mom and I really just stopped by because it was during spring break, I missed my students, and the mom throwing it personally asked me to come. It was fun but this year was even better because I could bring my guys and watch them participate in this amazing day with friends.
I’m pretty sure over a hundred people were at this suburban family home. The “entrance fee” to join in the fun is to bring at least one item from a large list per child. These items are all things needed and welcomed by members of our military. The hosts are a military family and constantly strive to give back to the troops beyond just wearing pins and posting patriotic pictures on social media. Further, they collect hundreds of Kindness Cards, which my classroom made for the second year in a row, that kids create and they then bring the cards to a local hospital. The hospital just keeps them stocked and passes them out throughout the year when patients need them. She stocks them up for the whole year. She started doing this years ago after the hospital she brings them to saved her brother in law’s life. She took it upon herself to thank the facility over and over again in this inventive, thoughtful, and beautiful way.
Not only is their backyard littered with over 6000 filled plastic eggs, but upon entrance there is a guess how many jelly beans game, a raffle box the kids put their names into, and a huge box of plastic toy soldiers and kids are urged to take one home and place it somewhere so every time they see it they might think about the soldiers out there working hard to protect their freedoms. Not only do so many kids go home with a basket full of candy and trinkets but they also raffled off what seemed like about 50 easter baskets and each kid went home with at least one!
I’m reflecting on this selfless family who put in MONTHS of work to prepare for this as they always do and then pulled it off with huge smiles all day because I know that in the slice challenge my writing helps me come off as a whiny baby complaining about the state of my life. I do not like coming off like that so much. I am well aware that the parts of my life that leave me currently unsatisfied and sometimes, yes, sad, are problems tons of people face and that so many more people have it so much worse. But my whole life writing has been my outlet for pain. My catharsis. So when I sit down to write it’s just natural that lots of my sentiments seem like they’re written on the back of tearstained , whoa-is-me, pity party invitations.
There are tiny little jealous monsters inside of me who attend something as altruistically brilliant as yesterday’s charity hunt that makes me envious of a family in a beautiful house, or all the mommies and daddies doting on their kids in their “perfect” worlds which I am not naive enough to think are always actually perfect but that doesn’t mean I don’t also see the abundant goodness that has nothing to do with my angsty issues. I am not mister sadsack everywhere I go. I can be quiet in public on contemplative days or I can be a little over the top at parties when I, knowingly or not, have extra steam inside to blow off. I have, on occasion, Irish goodbye’d when large gatherings of friends that are supposed to be happy reunions become overrun internally by those jealous little monsters after watching everything be so couple-y for a while. But I assure you that despite the usual tropes I explore in my slices I am not so self absorbed that I am unable to see good as good in a world I tend to paint in shadows and gloom from time to time.
The hunt made me think of ways in the past I have successfully taken action to fend off negativity. So maybe as winter starts to finally go back into hibernation itself I can awaken those impulses in me to brighten my life as spring does the same for what’s around me on the outside. I can’t handle holidays and long weekends without my kids when there are no sports or whatever that let me see them, this weekend made that pretty obvious. Ha. So a couple years ago I spent my nonkid Thanksgiving driving to North Dakota and camping in overnight 10 degree weather to spend the holiday helping protest the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock reservation. I mean, I totally did it for me so I could run away from missing my family but it was me who made the impulsive choice to do something positive with that fear or anxiety and it did feel good. Same with the long Columbus Day weekend this year just after Hurricane Harvey hit. I wasn’t going to see my kids. No sports. I traveled to Houston, my brother found out and even met me from Florida, and we went door to door from morning until night passing out supplies and literally helping people tear apart their hurricane damaged houses. Again, those things would’ve gotten done without me. Again, I am aware that I used a tragedy to help myself feel ok about myself, but I have done that, that escaping, in so many other non-positive ways that it is good in times like this for me to just remember that I do have coping skills that allow me to work through my stuff in ways that are conducive to long-lasting and happy effects. It’s a huge reason why I go to the gym so much and work as hard there as I do. I know people who love the gym. Lots of people think I am one of those people. I am not. Yes, part of why I go there is for the Kevin Spacey (I know, ew) in American Beauty reasons, but mostly it’s a way to spend my too much alone time doing something with long lasting positive effects. At least until I cave and polish off that bottle of wine calories and offset it in multiple ways. Haha.
I am sad sometimes like everyone else but I have a tool box at my disposal that helps me work through it. Writing is just a major tool in that box making all of you privy to my work in this area. I derive great, great joy from what I do everyday for work. And my kids make literally everything I have gone through and will go through more than worth it. And I know and am friends with such beautiful people. It’s just that sometimes I need to remember not to be jealous of what they have or do that I do not, and remember that there are so many people out there who wish they had what I do, which is a life peopled by friends like mine is.