My son, Ben, said to me the other day, “Mom, wasn’t 2020 the best year ever?”
Ben is 10, so he is well aware of everything everyone has been through this past year. I looked at him to see if he was joking. Then I said, “Are you kidding?”
“No Mom. It really was great. We moved next to a cornfield and you let me get a BB gun and I got to ride my bike to the pond to go fishing. I just think it was a really fun year.”
Perspective is everything, isn’t it?
Maybe you find yourself, like me, sometimes seeing only the things lost. The way life used to be. The changes we’ve all had to endure. It makes a person weary to constantly have to recalibrate. Ben reminded me to take another look at the picture. Turn it around and upside down and search out the things that are new and different and good. Because perspective is everything.
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Margaret Beitz, from Hillsboro, N.D., wrote to me about her grandson’s birthday and how kindness and a change in perspective made for a very special celebration.
“I want to tell you of a kindness I experienced in 2020. My youngest grandson, Carter, was to celebrate his ninth birthday. The kids had been out of school for about three months. Carter hadn’t been able to see his friends or play with them and was quite down in the dumps as they couldn’t help him celebrate his birthday.
"The date fell on a Sunday, so my daughter and son-in-law came up with an idea of how to celebrate his birthday. It was May and the weather was nice, so social distancing was an easy option on their lawn and in their garage.
"She called all the local aunts, uncles and grandparents to meet at their town’s gas station/convenience store. We formed a caravan to parade past his home with balloons hanging out our car windows and waving signs saying, ‘Happy Birthday, Carter.’ Mom was signaled by phone so he was out on the lawn when we passed.
"His uncle was on his motorcycle, we all honked horns and made lots of noise.
"The smile on Carter’s face about outshined the sun that day.
"We circled around the block and then stopped by the yard. We left our birthday signs and balloons there, visited a bit and then ate lunch. Carter’s Aunt Kathy made a special cake for him.
"That night when he went to bed he told his mom, ‘This was the best birthday party I’ve ever had.’
"He put the signs and balloons on the end of his bed for many nights. And to think we made him so happy and we were all old people and not his young friends. It made a good day for all."
I know you’re weary of trying to do normal life in a very abnormal time. Me too. Let’s take a lesson from the kids and shift our perspective to kindness.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.