My two small children huddled together, giggling with glee. It was a holiday that they had looked forward to for weeks. Not Christmas. Nor even Easter. It was a unique holiday our family invented–Mr. Brown day.
Let me explain.
Mr. Brown was our mailman. But he wasn’t your run-of-the-mill postal worker. Mr. Brown delivered more than just letters, bills, and packages. He delivered smiles and encouragement to those along his route in our tiny town. Never too busy to chat with a lonely widow, or to ask a youngster about his upcoming Little League game, Mr. Brown really got to know folks on his route. Our kids couldn’t wait to surprise him one afternoon with news of this new holiday.
In order to prepare for Mr. Brown day, we took our kids to the local dollar store and told them to let their imagination run wild dreaming up gifts for Mr. Brown’s goody bag. They purchased a squirt gun for him to use to ward off the neighborhood dogs. They also bought a gift certificate to a local restaurant so he could take Mrs. Brown out for a “fancy dinner.” (Apparently they felt our neighborhood Dairy Queen served a good supper, and so we stopped there to snag a gift card.) We baked cookies and made some fresh-squeezed lemonade. Then, when the day came—a random Tuesday—we hid inside our front door and waited.
My preschool son, Mitchell, was our lookout scout. When he saw Mr. Brown coming down our maple-lined street, he whispered excitedly, “Here he comes!” We continued to crouch down underneath our picture window. Then, just as he stepped up on the porch, we flung open the door, blew party honkers, and tossed confetti in the air.
“Surprise!” we shouted. “It’s Mr. Brown, best mailman in town! Today is officially Mr. Brown day!”
To say he was surprised would be a gross understatement. He immediately wanted to know what all the ruckus was about. I sat and watched as my sweet children explained to him that we had been studying in the Bible about not just saying we love people, but really showing them. And we especially wanted to show love to the folks we call “necessary people”. These are the servants who help our family to get life done. They bring our mail. Cut our hair. Bag our groceries. Teach or coach our kids. Necessary people are…well..so necessary!
After opening his gifts and enjoying the refreshments, Mr. Brown smiled, gave each child a hug, and then went on his way with an added spring in his step. I didn’t really think much more about our front porch shower of love until about a week later.
I was out front, once again trying to clean off all the little fingerprints on our living room picture window, when I heard the familiar sound of Mr. Brown’s feet coming up my front walkway. I turned around and greeted him.
When I said hello, he wasted no time but cheerfully declared, “I have to tell you. I am still not over Mr. Brown day.” And then he said something I could not believe. His voice cracking, he continued, “You know, I have been a mailman in this town for thirty-three years, and no one has ever done anything like what your family did for me. Sure, people remember me at Christmas. But no one has ever reached out to me on an ordinary day to say that they appreciate what I do.” Visibly choked up, he concluded with a simple but sincere declaration: “Thank you for Mr. Brown day.”
Wow! Thirty-three years of faithful service and no one ever thought to thank him other than at Christmas time. (Now don’t go thinking our family is all amazing. It took us almost eight years of his being our mail carrier to think of the idea!) It just goes to show you that there are necessary people all around us–those who help our families week after week–whose lives might be deeply touched by a random, out-of-the-ordinary, act of true kindness.
Who are your family’s necessary people? Make a list of them and then choose just one this month to thank.
It can be with just a simple gift of some words of appreciation–either verbal or handwritten. Or maybe your family too can invent your own new holiday. Either way, you’ll be serving a servant, showering them with a much-deserved dose of encouragement.
Necessary people rock! Thank one this week. It won’t just make their day. It will also make your entire family’s day as well.
Blessings, Karen Ehman
NOTE: for more ideas on scattering kindness, check out Karen’s newest book Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World. When you grab a copy–from any retailer–by midnight November 14th, you receive tons of freebies including printable PDF of encouraging note cards to leave for or give to your family’s “necessary people” such as teachers, coaches, the mail carrier, grocery store clerk, garbage collector, barista, and more. Also included is a printable PDF of Canning Jar Food Gift Ideas with accompanying designed tags including such goodies as Michigan Dried Cherry-White Chocolate Cashew layered cookie mix, Oatmeal Cinnamon-Nut Pancakes, Turkey Noodle Soup mix, and more. Details found on the blog at karenehman.com.