Gratitude is defined in The Merriam-Webster Dictionary as: thankfulness. Thankful is defined as: conscious of benefit received, expressive of thanks. Today’s world has lost all sense of the word gratitude. Bear with me here and let me explain.
It seems everywhere I go, everything I do freely for other people is simply expected. There is no gratitude.
In October of 2020, I was contemplating what I could do for my yearly Thanksgiving gratitude thing. Over the years, I’ve tried to do something special as a “pay it forward” for all the blessings in life I have received during my lifetime. Sometimes, it’s been as simple as making cookies for an older person or baking a cake and dropping it off at the local fire or police station. Just simply things to brightened someone’s day.
This particular October, I had been hearing on the news about “Porch Pirates” following delivery trucks around neighborhoods and stealing packages off people’s porches. That’s when the idea hit me – “Porch Fairy!” It’s like a porch pirate but instead of taking a package, I leave a package. And so, my idea of “The Porch Fairy” was born.
Since November of 2020, I’ve been doing my “Porch Fairy” thing. I put together a “Maggie Rivers” bag of goodies (a book, pen, sewing kit, plastic cup, postcards, bookmark, etc.) and I sneak up on someone’s porch and leave the bag with one of my porch fairy cards tied to it with a balloon.
My business card is in the bag and all the goodie stuff has my info on it, etc. so it’s not a secret who left it. It’s just that I have no idea who lives in the house where I left it. I’ve tried to do a minimum of five each week, some weeks more, some less. But that’s around six hundred of these bags I’ve left on porches not only in Des Moines but other towns as well. Poor porches and rich porches a like. Even left them in neighborhoods I wouldn’t go into at night and some that were even darn questionable in the daytime as well. My purpose was to surprise someone with something they didn’t expect and hopefully put a small smile on their face.
Now, not one single person has ever emailed or left a phone message saying thanks for putting a smile on my face or making my day or even stop putting crap on my porch! Out of all those people, not one single thank you of any kind. Not that that was my intention in the first place. The card specifically says I ask nothing in return other than to pass it forward when they can to help spread ripples of kindness in this old world. But, out of all those people, you would have thought at least one would have sent a note saying they would definitely pay it forward.
What I’m trying to do with my “Porch Fairy” is to make someone smile. Maybe they had an extra hard day at work and my little surprise bag of goodies brought a much-needed smile to their face. Or maybe the person lived alone and had no one who cared and just for a few minutes they felt maybe there was someone out there who did care, and it brightened their day for a few moments.
I am not telling you this to get a pat on the back or a thank you. No, don’t even go there. That’s not what this is about. I’m just using my own experience because it shows exactly what I’m talking about. People expect everything handed to them on a silver platter with a silver spoon. It’s that “me” attitude.
Another example. People take advantage of government handouts when they do not need those handouts. For instance, I know a gentleman who owns two houses – free and clear, no mortgage, no loans, etc. One of those houses has a basement where the concrete brick walls are bulging inward and have been for years. A few years back, we had some flooding in the area and the government stepped in with money to be had if your home was damaged by flooding. No, this gentleman’s home was not damaged by the flooding. He wasn’t even in a flood zone, yet he asked for the money because the brick walls needed to be replaced. So, the government forked over the money. This same gentleman, who can afford to have two houses, goes to every food pantry and collects food weekly. If it’s a free service of any kind, he’s at the head of the line. This man’s bank account alone would let him live comfortably for the rest of his life and that doesn’t include the stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, etc. that he owns. He in no way needs government assistance of any kind yet he feels he’s entitled to it.
When I was growing up, the government didn’t step in and give out “free” money. And, no nothing in this world is “free.” Someone has to pay for it and that someone is people like me who work for a living.
But, it used to be the government took care of government work and didn’t step in to take care of people. That was left up to the neighborhoods, churches, and organizations of all kinds. If a family was having difficulties, people in the neighborhood knew it and they helped out with food, clothes, etc. The neighborhood churches did the same. They knew who needed legitimate help and who was simply a freeloader. Now, the government has created a bunch of big-time freeloaders. People no longer have to work for the food they eat or the clothes on their backs. The government gives it to them. You can get a place to live, a cell phone, money, medical treatment, food, clothes and pretty much anything else you need all “free” from the government.
What has happened to America? What has happened to good old-fashioned values? What has happened to respect for one another? What has happened to thankfulness?
People no longer care about each other. It’s a “me, me, me” attitude.
Could we change that? Could you and I “pay it forward.” Be a “Porch Fairy.” Bake some cookies or a cake. Show some thankfulness. Show some gratitude to your fellow man. Go out there and spread some ripples of kindness. Maybe, if enough of us do it, we can get a tsunami of kindness going around the world. And that, my friends, would be the proverbial icing on the cake!