Unexpected People Who Come to Mean a Lot

Every three or four days, I find myself at the local grocery store. I would prefer to get everything our family of four needs for the week in one big trip. Inevitably, though, we run out of milk, or Scotch tape, or coffee filters—something—and I dash over to Hannaford for whatever it is we need.

Of course, while I’m there, I end up picking up a few other things we “need”—happens every time, right, friends?

The Hannaford I go to is a fairly compact store, and I’m there at least twice a week, so I’ve gotten to know the staff pretty well. One of my favorite people is a gentleman named Rick, who works in the deli. As time has gone on, our chitchat has progressed from how I’d like my pound of turkey sliced to how our children are doing. Rick often sees me in the store with my kids, and I’ve bumped into him around the neighborhood with his. The experience of parenthood is a unifying one, an easy and natural common denominator for conversation between folks.

The last time we saw each other—Saturday morning—I told Rick that Anna had not slept well the night before. “Stanton and I ended up bringing her into bed with us, and then she kicked us the whole night,” I said.

Rick smiled and told me he and his wife had been there, too. We chatted for another minute before he finished up my order. Before I left the deli, we told each other to have a nice day, and see you soon.

The experience of parenthood is a unifying one, an easy and natural common denominator for conversation between folks.

There are everyday places in our world that we come to depend on—for example, the grocery store. Over time, these places—and the people we come to know there—weave a meaningful role into the fabric of our life. The places and the people root us in a position of belonging, of community, of “home.”

Think of how disoriented you feel, how out of place, when you swing by a grocery store you don’t usually go to. What should be a 10-minute errand spirals into half an hour of wandering past unfamiliar endcaps and asking people you don’t know, “What aisle is the ketchup in?” (You know where the ketchup is in your store.)

For a lot of us, our grocery store probably is one of the everyday places that mean something to us.

For me, the street I live on is one of those places, too. Two other moms whose kiddos go to school with Grace live on our street. When I see them during the week—even if just for a minute or two—I know I can count on their kindness, their neighborliness and their knowledge of what’s going on at school. When we exchange pleasantries with our neighbors in the morning, or at the end of the day, we may not realize the unconscious way we appreciate one another’s warmth—or, simply, one another’s being there.

Just knowing people are there can provide comfort, security, peace of mind.

Mailbox

One of the challenges for me, in being a mostly stay-at-home mom, is that I’m an extrovert, and I miss having “my people” as working parents do: co-workers, colleagues, clients. When I do work (write), I often set up shop in a place where other people will be around. The liveliness of everyone else energizes me, even though we’re not talking to one another. I still feel community.

I shared with you all last time that I write in a nearby library when Anna is in preschool. On weekends when Stanton is playing with both girls, I like to go to a coffee shop in our town.

All through the fall, I ordered the coffee shop’s seasonal blend, Vermont maple. (Delicious, friends.) Now that it’s winter, I’ve been asking the folks behind the counter to pour me whatever is the hottest—whatever coffee just finished brewing.

On my most recent visit, a new employee told me that would be the Ethiopian. Fine, I said. Then Livia, whom I met when we first moved here, interjected.

“I think you should try our holiday blend,” she said, adding that she was brewing a fresh pot. “I know how much you liked the Vermont maple; I think you’ll like this one, too.”

Sounds great, I said. And it was.

The places and the people root us in a position of belonging, of community, of “home.”

At first glance, conversations like this may seem like nothing special. Try this coffee, Livia says. How are your kids? Rick asks.

But they do mean something. They do.

We can mean something to the people around us, too. We can be the people that others count on—for a kind word, a helping hand, whatever small gesture we might offer that actually may be making a difference in someone else’s life.

Maybe it’s because Christmas is just around the corner, or maybe it’s because I’m usually sentimental anyway…but I believe that when we put our positive energy out into the world, good things happen. We make good things happen for others. And good things can come back to us.

The 19th-century chemist Humphy Davy once said, “Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness, and small obligations given habitually, are what preserve the heart and secure comfort.”

Happy Holidays, friends, and best wishes for every good thing in the New Year.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “What Happens Next.” A story that’s heartfelt, relevant and can’t-put-it-down good.

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23 Conversations With Little G

At 3½ years old, Little G has become her own person. There are times when she banters with my hubby and me that catch us off guard. Little G can alternate between thoughtful, funny, and downright self-centered—like all of us, right? 🙂 Some of these moments follow. And, please “Leave a Comment” to share your moments with your kiddos, friends.

Conversation No. 1

Little G: Morning, Mom.
Me: Hi, honey. Come snuggle with me.
Little G: No, Mom. Time to wake up!
Me: [yawning] Let’s snuggle a minute, honey.
Little G: It’s wake-up time, sleepyhead!

Conversation No. 2

Little G: [snuggling into me] Can I have a treat, Mom?
Me: [loving the snuggles] OK! Here are three chocolate-covered pretzels.
Little G: Because I’m 3! [a few minutes later] Can I have a treat, Mom?
Me: Little G! I just gave you a treat.
Little G: Come on, Mom. [more snuggles]
Me: O … K. [giving her some Goldfish]
Little G: [15 minutes later] Can I have a treat, Mom?
Me: Little G! You’ve had nothing but treats all morning.
Little G: Haha! [pause] How about a cookie?

Conversation No. 3 

Little G: Read me a book, Mom?
Me: Sure, honey. [Little G hands me “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” I begin reading.]
Little G: Mouse really likes his cookie.
Me: He does!
Little G: I like cookies, too. [looking at me]
Me: No, Little G.

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Conversation No. 4

Little G: Is this the right feet?
[Asks this question every time before putting on her shoes.]

Conversation No. 5

Me: Ready for school?
Little G: Yes, the big sister’s ready!
(Little G’s little sister is due in a few weeks.)

Conversation No. 6

Little G: You’re too big for your car seat, Mom.
Me: Thanks, honey. (The ninth month of pregnancy will do that to you!)

Conversation No. 7

Me: Hmm, I think this is the right turn.
Little G: Are you sure you know where you’re going, Mom?
(Who doesn’t love a backseat driver, of any age?!)

Conversation No. 8

Little G: Look, Mom: I’m not picking my nose today.
Me: Good job!

Conversation No. 9

Little G: I want a treat!
Me: You need to eat your lunch first. Got it?
Little G: No, I don’t got it!

Conversation No. 10

Me: Ouch!
Little G: What, Mom?
Me: I just hurt my back. I’m OK, though.
Little G: Sorry about your owie, Mom. Let’s sit down and talk about it.

Conversation No. 11

Little G: Time to go to Starbucks!
Me: Yes!
Little G: Your favorite place, Mom!
Me: Well … one of them, honey!

Conversation No. 12

Me: Today is your school program! Yay!
Little G: I don’t feel like singing today.
Me: Well, maybe you can try.
Little G: Hmm … no, not today. 

Conversation No. 13

Little G: Fix my hair, Mom? Dad didn’t do a good job, again.
Me: He tried his best. But yes, let me fix your hair.

Conversation No. 14

Me: Here’s your dinner, honey.
Little G: No! I don’t want tacos! No.
Me: It’s either tacos or nothing.
Little G: [sighing deeply] O … K, Mom.

Conversation No. 15

Me: I need to use the potty, honey. I’ll be right back.
Little G: I’ll come with you, Mom.
Me: No, it’s OK, honey.
Little G: No, it’s OK, Mom. I’ll just sit right here on my step stool, right here, and watch you. OK?
Me: [sighing deeply] O … K.

Conversation No. 16

Me: Oh, man. I just messed something up.
Little G: It’s OK, Mom.
Me: I need to redo this. Man!
Little G: No pouting, Mom.

Conversation No. 17

Little G: Mom, you’re my best lady in the world.
Me: Awww … you, too!

Conversation No. 18

Me: How was your work dinner, honey?
Hubby: Good!
Little G: What did you have?
Hubby: Chicken Laredo.
Little G: Wow! That’s different!

Conversation No. 19

Me: Do you know who loves you?
Little G: You!
Me: Yes! And …
Little G: Daddy. And Jesus loves me, too.
Me: ❤

Conversation No. 20

Little G: Look, Mom! My feet are dancing.
[Says every time I turn on the car radio.]

Conversation No. 21

[at the library]
Me: Let’s check out some books!
Little G: Or, some DVDs!
Me: How about books and DVDs?
Little G: I just want DVDs.

Conversation No. 22

Little G: My shirt doesn’t fit anymore!
Me: It’s just fine.
Little G: No, it’s too small! My head’s stuck!
Me: Here, let me just unbutton these buttons … there you go. It’s fine.
Little G: [stunned] Hey, you’re right, Mom!
Me: What do you know?

Conversation No. 23

Little G: Time to dance, Mom!
Me: I’m a little tired, honey. I’ll just watch you, OK?
Little G: Because of my baby sister?
Me: Yes, she’s making me a little tired. But I’m excited to watch you! OK?
Little G: OK. Just sit right here. You’ll be OK, sweetie.
Me: Awww … thanks, honey.