This post is originally from November 2010.
First: my younger brother was in elementary school. He was always getting in trouble for bringing his favorite toy to class and making noises with it -- car vrooms, super hero whams and what not -- and at one point got REALLY into Pokemon. He's going to kill me if he ever reads this (I'm aware that my 18-year-old brother couldn't care less about this blog), but he seriously loved Pokemon. I cannot tell you how many memories I had in middle and high school of him playing with Pikachu and Jiggly Puff; sometimes he would even ask me to play the Nintendo 64 Pokemon game and he was so cute that I couldn't resist.
The huge thing with Pokemon? Trading cards, duh! There were sets of these cards and they were going for huge bucks. My parents had divied out a substantial amount of money to my Beanie Babies obsession (pretty much fraud), so they knew to be fair that they would have to support my brother's love of Pokemon. By the way, I still have every single Beanie Babis (babis!) I've ever owned, even the Teenie Beanies that I waited in line with my cousins for, at McDonald's in Ohio, for THREE HOURS so we could get the entire collection. I kept telling my mother, "They'll be worth millions in a few years!" and ironically I think my power of persuasion worked, because I have no idea why she or my dad would waste money on bean bags that looked like animals.
Anyway, there was a little boy in Nick's class that ended up stealing a bunch of his Pokemon cards from his desk while Nick wasn't looking. This child wasn't bad or a bully, he was just a kid, I guess. An unassuming and normal child, guess he just had a passion for being a thief. Nick knew he had taken them, so he told my mom. My mom ends up going to Nick's teacher about it, who puts her in touch with the little boy's Mom.
His Mom was so sweet and explained their situation: she was a single parent and had lost everything. They had just moved in with her brother because her husband had been killed in a tragic car accident; they had no money or life insurance. Their family was struggling and she didn't have anything to be able to buy the boy a single gift for Christmas. (I tear up every time I remember this story.) She apologized for the incident and explained that they were having a really rough time, that the boy probably was acting outwardly for what was going on at home.
My mom obviously let it go and told Nick about it. She suggested getting the boy a few Pokemon cards for Christmas. Instead, my peach of a brother decided they should go all out and get something really great for his Mom to give him for Christmas: one of those Platinum Booster Packs. Those sets were the Red Rider BB gun of Pokemon packs. They cost around $150 and came in gold and silver tins. Sure enough, Mom bought one on ebay and wrapped it with a card from Santa, gave it to Nick's teacher to give to the little boy's mom, and told her not to tell his mom who it was from. In the end, the little boy had a ton of Pokemon cards to trade after the holidays.
I think about that story every year at Christmas, it's instant waterworks. It breaks my heart to think that any child is struggling, let alone doesn't food, a warm house and love over the holidays. But it makes me proud to come from (and be related to) people with such generous hearts.
The next story shocked me so much that I can't ever forget it. It doesn't have the gravity of the first story, but it will forever be engrained in my mind.
I had finally managed to make my morning commute from Fort Worth to Dallas. The drive was miserable; took me at least an hour and half to get to my internship that I hated with every fiber in me. It's not in my personality to be so negative about a job but seriously, I contemplated selling my car and living off that money that summer instead of subjecting myself to those boring and mindless shenanigans. I wasn't alone: the general consenus was that the interns were all hated at this place, and we were all miserable. Minus the PR interns who loved their jobs... those little devils! (Ha.)
The one pick-me-up ritual I had? Hit up the nearby drive-thru Starbucks to grab a grande, five-pump Chai Latte, my signature drink since 9th grade (I hadn't picked up on the soy at that point). I ordered and as I pulled around to the window, I greeted the barista and handed her my gift card.
"No charge today, mam."
"The car in front of you took care of your order."
I had the biggest smile on my face the whole rest of the day from that one little thing. Did this person see me? Know me? Saw me drive through this Starbucks every single day at 8:15? Who knows and who cares! The best part, to me, was that the car had already driven away by the time I found out about their nice gesture! I had no idea who this person was and they did it out of the kindness in their heart. They didn't need any recognition. $3.85 later, they've made a stranger a very happy camper.
So what's the point of this blog? Pay it forward! Don't wait for someone to do something nice for you, start initiating it yourself! There are so many ways to give back. Even doing or saying something that you might feel is small or insignificant can brighten someone's day. I recommend taking in part of something this winter, whether it's wrapping gifts, working at a food bank, donating a shoe box to Operation Christmas Child, buying a shirt from Seer (or donate to KKF) or serving Christmas dinner to the homeless. Or, it might be as simple as picking up some unspecting person's tab.
Whatever you do, pay it forward!
PS: Not ironically, my brother's favorite movie is Pay it Forward. :) I love you baby monkey!!!