The Brody Bunch – Random Acts of Kindness in Coupons, Raspberries, & Spare Change, taking it into 2019

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The Kindness Department is Open Indefinitely

Winter Break is already going well in the kindness department.  Carrying a few moments from the end of this year into the New Year with the reminder that it is better to give than to receive and my children were there to bare witness.

Goodwill – Giving Good Will

We often donate to Goodwill and receive coupons for future purchases with our tax deduction receipt.  I had several coupons which expire at the end of the year.  My daughter and I walked around a Goodwill store and found people with a lot of items in their shopping carts or buying Christmas presents for their kids and handed out our coupons.  People smiled from ear to ear.  One lady hugged me and wished me a Merry Christmas.  Twenty percent on off on the coupon felt like a million dollars to my heart.

Sharing Raspberries

I bought my son a container of raspberries at the Farmer’s Market.  We were leaving and the farmer whistled. I turned around and she nodded for me to take the other container of raspberries.  My son and I were walking around with our raspberries and we saw a hungry man asking for money for something to eat.  My son suggested that I give him the raspberries.  I told the man that I do not give money, but I am happy to give raspberries.  Literally paying it forward from the farmer, to me, to this man.  He told me nicely that he doesn’t like raspberries.  I admitted that these were not the best raspberries because they are out of season, but it is better than nothing to eat.  He wanted to know if they were sweet.  I asked him if he wanted to taste a raspberry and then make a better decision.  He smiled.  I took off my glove and gave him a raspberry.  The man concurred that the raspberries didn’t taste good.  He likes them sweeter.  I told him a joke.  And he told me that he was happy that I let him try one and then this big man swooped in and gave me a huge hug and wished me a Merry Christmas.  It was a feel good moment of all sorts.

The Street Musician Playing “Jingle Bells”

While still at the Farmer’s Market, we could hear a musician performing “Jingle Bells”.  I was visiting with my friend and I was so euphoric telling her about the man and the raspberries.  My son left my side, and went to the musician and dropped the change from his pocket into her music case.  He supports the arts, and he is 12.  My heart was beaming with pride.

Resolutions

I am not one to make resolutions but I have been aware especially in the last few days how great it feels to do a random act of kindness.  The recipient is appreciative, but the rush feeling in return is indescribable and I hope to feel it over and over.

I was aware when I didn’t honk and swear at someone who cut me off in traffic, I patted myself on the back.  It felt great to go up to a mom posing her young girls dressed in their fanciest party dresses in front of the mall Christmas tree and offer to take a picture of the mom with her girls.

So, to be accountable, I am putting it out there, a simple act of random kindness each day is the way to live.  Random kindness makes the world light and bright for someone else and does much for the soul.

The Brody Bunch – Life is a Highway

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Snapped a pic of Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramirez while watching Cars 3 on Netflix.

December Errands Turn Into Holiday Memories

December.  While we need toilet paper, dish soap and mustard, store shelves are overflowing with holiday cheer.  My retail experience has been a teary eyed holiday season regarding memories from material gifts from years ago. The retail world is on high octane with sparkly pajama sets, gift boxed Hot Wheels, non scary looking baby dolls, Barbie and her dream world, Lego kits, books and more. I used to buy it all.  Now, I get a lump in my throat when I see the the holiday packaged merchandise as my kids are too old for this, they outgrew the this world, but my heart and memory did not. 

My kids are sweet, they don’t ask for expensive items, but their interests are expensive (sports gear and arts classes).  Toy catalogs and trips to box stores are now non issues in my house regarding the kids. But these are issues for me. The kids don’t long for their childhood toys, but I do. The toys used to shed light into their thoughts and imaginations before screen time. We used to play together.

My biggest holiday gift was always the joy I received in picking out the perfect doll or race car and watching my then little kids open the presents with such happiness and gratitude.  Those days are now just memories.

Lightning McQueen, then and now

My oldest son, 15, invited me to watch a movie with him.  Cars 3.  At age three, the first movie he ever saw was Cars. We watched this movie at least one hundred times. Ka-Chow! [Ka-Chow is Lightning McQueen’s catchphrase in case you missed the Cars experience].  Cars 3 represented a lot to me: present time with my son and a chance to go back in time.  I had a lot going on in my head. I tried to explain this phenomena to him, but his 15 year old self responded. I knew to pipe down and enjoy being in the moment.  I also knew that I would come back here and reflect this with all of you later.

We were watching Cars 3 just like we watched movies when my 15 year old was three, well that was my perspective.  And, when he told me “I love you”  it was the same infection in his voice as it was at age three, but now much lower in pitch at age 15.

At one point during the movie, we switched roles.  When he was little and something sad happened in a movie, I would remind him that it’s a movie, and I think things will work out.  Now, when I gasped at a Car character spinning out of control and hitting a wall (yes this is all animated), I was reminded by my son, “It’s a Disney-Pixar movie, it will be okay.” And, it was followed up with, “I love you.”   This growing up stuff is hard on the heart, but all will be okay.

Merchandising to the Kids, and to THIS parent

Recently, we gave away hundreds of Hot Wheels cars, and I pulled out Lightning McQueen from the giveaway, to keep for myself as a memento from my younger years of parenting.

The next morning after watching the movie, I was in Target. I knew it would be hard, but I went down the toys aisle to find a Lightning McQueen car from Cars 3, as a gag gift/or a pull at your heartstrings gift to my son, but probably more as a souvenir for myself.  I couldn’t find any movie merchandise, which was probably best.  And, I found myself eyeing the Hot Wheels race tracks that we used to set up through the living room. I saw the section of toys that we always ignored, no offense to the action figures and board games. 

I like to talk to strangers in the aisles and there was no one. No one for me to share with the great life messages that we watched in Cars 3.  The movie was filled with themes of friendship, doing the correct thing, knowing that you can always go home and to be yourself.  I left the toys aisle quickly and got our toilet paper, dish soap and mustard.

Life is a Highway

Whenever I hear the song, Life is a Highway the theme song from Cars I think of the journey my family is traveling.  This song is one of my songs with my oldest son, we hear it and we give each other a nod and a smile.  It’s a special song in our family.

Gifts don’t always come with glitter or with a big bow.  My gift came via Netflix and a trip down memory lane.  This holiday season shaped up to be a reminder via sparkles, movies, Barbies, Hot Wheels, glitter lip gloss and fancy plastic high heels that time moves on. 

To borrow from the lyrics Life is a Highway “Life’s like a road that you travel on/When there’s one day here and the next day gone… I love you now like I loved you then, this is the road….”  It’s a blessing to be on this highway, glad I was asked to watch a movie.

The Brody Bunch – Wishing for Random Acts of Kindness

A Man in Need, A Bully & Me

In the season of giving, things went wrong in my quick exchange with someone asking for help.  I was leaving Target, and walking with two strangers. Another man sitting with his belongings on a bench asked “do you have anything to spare?”  I smiled and nodded my head no. One of the men said under his breath, but loud enough to hear, “GET A JOB”. I said to this very large man, “Stop it, you don’t know his circumstances.”  The man argumentatively continued that the man asking for anything to spare could work at McDonald’s. I added, “he may not have skills or may have medical circumstances whereas he can’t work, you are being unkind.”  The man insisted that McDonald’s was the option. I stood up to a bully.

Offered Kindness & a Granola Bar & Received Rejection

I got into my car, drove around the parking lot back to the man, and got out of the car.  I said to the man, “I am sorry that man was so mean and unkind. And, I have a granola bar for you.  You might want it later.” The man was initially friendly and now had a freighting look on his face. “I do not want your granola bar.”  I responded, “You might want it later. Please.” He said, “Go away with your granola bar. I don’t want it, because of my teeth.” I was surprised, and complimented his teeth and suggested that the granola bar can be crushed.  The man told me firmly “GO AWAY.” No smile. No thank you. Just, GO AWAY.

I went away crushed. I stood up to a man physically bigger than me.  Then I was rejected by someone I was trying to help.

I got in back in the car, sad. Later, I gave my kid the granola bar which he accepted with gratitude.

Wishing for Random Acts of Kindness

On this 8th Night of Chanukah, my holiday wish is that as many people as possible give the gift of small acts of kindness.  Like a menorah, we can all be the light.  If we each do something kind in the Universe, it will be better for all of us, no matter what our circumstance.  My next small act of kindness was to let a car in front of me and not use bad words when he didn’t wave thank you, I started very small. 

We need as many people as possible doing small random acts of kindness. It’s free. It’s easy. It’s the spirit of the holiday season. And, you won’t need a gift receipt. 

The Brody Bunch – The Thought Behind Teacher Holiday Gifts

The Season For Giving To Others

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”  My four generous children like to give their many teachers homemade gifts during the holidays. Their kindness and thoughtfulness makes my heart burst with pride. They have done this for as long as I can remember. While writing this blog, I received an email from my then Kindergarten aged daughter’s Principal.  The Principal shared a photo of a Christmas ornament that my daughter made for her eight years ago. That ornament still gets hung on the Principal’s Christmas tree!

Saturday, I went to Target because they sent me a coupon “spend $100 get $20 off.” It is not lost on me that we have very little time to make teacher holiday gifts before Winter Break. Especially for four kids with at least eight teachers each.

From Arts & Crafts to Holiday Treats From the Kids

Our days of pipe cleaner beaded snowflake ornament making are sadly behind us.  And, gluing sequins and ribbons onto pre-cut holiday themed cardboard shapes is also a memory from the past. We have evolved into giving Rolo pretzel treats. Rolo pretzels bring holiday cheer in an affordable manner while allowing my kids to be generous and show gratitude over the holiday season. Instead of glitter glue all over my house like from days long ago, my kitchen and dining room are set up like a factory because we assemble a boatload of pretzel Rolo treats for their teachers.

So, I went to Target to purchase Rolos and pretzels. Coincidentally, I ran into the woman who gave me this recipe – melting Rolo candy onto square pretzels and freezing them. Ta-da.  The hardest part of this effort, after unwrapping each individual Rolo, is to not eat the Rolos.

OY to the World

Back to shopping at Target. I was walking through the crowded aisles filled with many people wearing ugly sweaters and holiday graphic t-shirts.  I considered buying a holiday t-shirt with my coupon money, but the joke will wear off for me after the first wear and I know that I will never find the shirt during the holiday season.  I don’t need such a shirt in February. Also, I am Jewish so I give a nod to Hanukkah simply by wearing a necklace that says “OY to the World” – that is my holiday cheer.

Standing in the candy aisle, the sale tag on Rolos is confusing.  The sale was three bags for $10 or whatever was about 55 pieces per bag/165 total candies.  After I figured out the pieces of candies per servings, times the number of servings per gift bag, times four children, times eight teachers each, plus other adults in the building and Crossing Guards, and receptionists, and nurses, and lunch ladies, the Custodian and EVERYONE, I needed a lot of Rolos.

Alex The Target Employee & Talent Scout

Then I met Alex, a Target employee, working in aisle G30.  He overheard me calling my Dad, “Are you busy? Are you in front of your computer?  I need you to go onto Amazon. Target is smartly blocking the Amazon site (at least that is what I think).  I need you to give me the unit price on Rolos, please. WTF? My measurement in Target is by the pound. No, I can’t do the conversion in ounces for Amazon.  Grams? Hell no. Okay, so you agree? Buy Rolos here? It’s probably the same price? Yeah, that’s what I thought.” Alex asked me if I ever thought about getting my own TV show.  Thanks, Alex. Alex said that I had a lot of options for my TV show, but it would be a comedy, possibly a cooking show, but definitely a comedy.

Now that I had an audience, Alex confirmed that the price at Target was great. He didn’t even know the Amazon price. But, Alex thought I was funny and I think he wanted to be on my TV show.  So, I tossed 9 bags of Rolos into my shopping cart. Though if memory serves me correctly, that at Christmas, there are larger quantity bags of Rolos. I told Alex what I was doing and he proceeded to show me other candies that would also taste good melted over ice cream.  Please Alex, there is NO ice cream involved. Then I showed him a box of candy canes and suggested that he open each individually wrapped candy cane, place it in a Ziploc bag, and mash it with a hammer so that he would have Peppermint crunch toppings on HIS ice cream. He was impressed.  I bid Alex adieu and told him that I have to figure out the Rolo formula regarding pretzels, because we need enough bags of pretzels for two pretzels per Rolo. And, if you are really on the ball, you know that some pretzels will come broken in the bag, and someone may or may not eat some Rolos, unauthorized.  

Full Price for Christmas Wrap?

Moving along from the candy aisle, I ended up in the Winter Wonderland section. I met a mom pondering aloud with a toddler in tow if she should buy more Christmas wrapping paper, she’s not sure if she has enough paper from last year. I inquired, “Excuse me. Hi. How are you unsure about this?  Don’t you buy Christmas paper AFTER Christmas when it’s on clearance and stock up for next year?” The look on her face was priceless. She responded, “What does that mean? You actually buy Christmas paper AFTER the season when it’s on sale and use it the following year?” WTF? I am no financial planner, but they aren’t canceling Christmas.  She left impressed. I left overwhelmed knowing the knowledge I have to share with the world.

Next thing I see IN the Winter Wonderland is another sized bag of Rolos. So, now I am doing the formulas that I did previously but adding fractions into the formulas for price comparisons.  I was getting screwed by the candy company. Turns out that the second packaging option was saving me pennies. I reached for about 9 of those sized bags and separated my shopping cart between the first batch of Rolos and the second batch. I walked back to Aisle G30 to return the first round of Rolos. I am a model citizen in these situations.  I can’t believe it, on the end cap, there was a THIRD option. I have my calculator app going, I am scratching numbers on scrap paper and decided indeed that I am going with the third option. I pull back into Aisle G30 and find Alex. I tell Alex that I did not intend to spend my morning earning a degree in Mathematics. He was sorry. But, in my absence, he thought of more recipes.  I was putting the bags back on the shelf and his manager walked by. I told his manager that Alex went above and beyond good customer service. Though I worked really hard at all of the math and re-shelving the inventory. In hindsight, Alex just told me that I needed a TV show. I recommended that Alex get recognition and he received a customer shout out on the employee wide walkie-talkie radio.  I led the cheering in my section of Target.

Rolo Pretzels Are Coming! And So Is Discounted Christmas Wrapping Paper!  … It’s the Thought that Counts!

Anyone who has taught my kids over the past 7 years knows that the Rolo pretzels are coming.  When they say “it’s the thought that counts” indeed, I have given this a lot of thought. … and as a public service announcement, put a reminder in your calendars to buy Christmas wrapping paper on clearance after the New Year.  I’ve thought a lot about that, too.