Sunday, December 14, 2014

_The Hancock News_ Column--December 3, 2014

Saying the final good-bye is tough. This week my family is saying that good-bye to one of our church’s members who passed away. Although our children didn’t interact with him much, I think my oldest daughter will remember him fondly forever. 

When she was still just a wee thing, he gave her a $2 bill. We put that crisp bill in a safe place to keep until she was older, and we’ve shown it to her several times. By today’s standards, two dollars really isn’t a huge gift, but it was a gift worth more than its face value.

You see, in my daughter’s mind, it means that somebody did something special just for her. I’m not sure if this gentleman remembered the gift he gave, but because of him, she feels special. 

A few weeks ago my husband helped me carry out one of my hare-brained ideas. I’d won tickets to the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, and I thought it was most important for all of us to go. Yes, even the potty-training toddler and the baby were dragged along to the Sunday matinee. 

I knew ahead of time that it would be challenging for them to behave quietly. Despite the contraband Cheerios and other small treats I brought to bribe them, it soon became clear that I’d be lucky if the littlest ones lasted until intermission.

At intermission, my husband and I decided the little ones needed to go for a quiet drive instead of further cultivating their music appreciation skills. I stayed with the school-aged children while my husband lulled the youngest ones to sleep with an afternoon spin around Hagerstown.

Although the older children were antsy by the end of the performance, they really did enjoy the music. I was happy to have taken them, but still a little upset about the distraction I’d caused by bringing the little ones.

As we waited outside for my husband, total strangers walked up and asked where the babies went. They gushed over and complimented them for their good behavior. While every whimper and fidget sounded like a freight train to me, evidently these folks didn’t even notice. 

An event destined to be labeled a complete failure in my brain was filed away instead as a great family memory by the kind words of strangers. The symphony was great, but those words of encouragement made my day. I don’t know if I thanked them or not, but I wish I could. 

In a time of busy stores and long lines, I guess I’ll have ample opportunity to pass their kindness on to others with my own encouraging smile or helping hand. After all, sometimes the small things do matter most.

I received even more warm fuzzies about the same time in an email--the first email sent to me by a reader. Sylvia from Hagerstown was kind enough to share a good and healthy soup recipe. I’m thankful for it, too, since this time of year we’re tempted with so many holiday treats. Plus, a little added warmth in the midst of the cold weather is most welcome.

LENTIL SOUP            8-10 Servings

3 cups dry lentils                       2 med. carrots, shredded
3 qts.  water                              2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. instant beef base         2 tsp. salt
1 qt. stewed tomatoes               1/2 tsp. pepper
4 Tbsp. parsley                          2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large onions, chopped            2 cups diced ham

Combine all ingredients in a soup pot and bring to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer until lentils are soft - about 2 hours.

Note: Sometimes Sylvia replaces the beef base with ham base, and if she has beef or ham broth, she uses that in place of the base and water.


  1. What a nice thing for that stranger to do. It's true that I think we sometimes worry that our little ones are being unruly, others think they're just being cute, or actually behaving!

    Glad you all got a day out, even the little ones.

    1. It was so nice. This evening I was shopping by myself, and I saw a family with 5 children. They really were being good, and I made it a point to compliment the mother because I'm sure it's not always like that. I also made sure the children heard, and they were smiling from ear to ear. :)