My son came home from work today and handed me a lovely Christmas card with a gift card enclosure addressed to him. I was surprised and asked him who the senders were. He matter-of-factly told me they were his customers whom he saw regularly. This seemingly small gesture touched my heart.
For context, I am a parent of a 30-ish young man who has proudly worked in a local grocery store for a number of years. It has been a lifelong effort for him to comfortably work with the public, concentrate on his tasks and fully realize the importance of doing a job well. Autism jolted him as a toddler into a world he could not comprehend; he lost his speech, his awareness of his surroundings, his ability to recognize cause and effect, and his innate tools to filter the bombardment of his ever-changing everyday environment.
It has been a lengthy journey of achievement for him to be where he is and to be the person he has become. Many years of his own efforts combined with our parenting and the guidance of friends, family and teachers have groomed him to be successful as a person. We wanted him to be thoughtful and caring with empathy; through modeling, we worked on appropriate behaviors, discussing how to react to certain situations. We emphasized that he should try to help others and be courteous. At first, he wanted to avoid that kind of contact, but he hung in there and now it almost comes naturally to him.
I say all of this not only as a thank you to Abby and Nola but to highlight how seemingly small acts of kindness have positive ripple effects. Their card to my son moved me, especially because of his life’s story. I was pleased that his actions produced a positive reaction but that also someone reached out to him and let him know it.
We are considered civilized because of our humanity. Small, courteous gestures or just smiling at someone are positive indicators of our humanity. If we just remember to have eye contact or even subtle recognition of those who invisibly provide us with all kinds of services, it can be uplifting to both parties.
By relating this, I wanted to state my gratitude as a parent to two thoughtful strangers who are unaware of the effect of their kindness: a reaffirmation of my belief in the inherent goodness of humanity. So, thank you and Merry Christmas to Abby and Nola. Merry Christmas to everyone!
Nancy Lyons, Carmel