On Christmas day, the doorbell at my firehouse rang. I went downstairs and was greeted by a father and his teenage son and daughter. The father was holding a very large tray of baked goods.
He introduced himself, told me where they lived and said that his daughter had started this tradition of bringing baked goods to the firehouse on Christmas. I introduced myself to her and her brother and thanked them on behalf of all of the firefighters.
As I walked upstairs with this amazing tray filled with a wide variety of homemade treats, I was overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude and guilt. I realized the amount of time, energy and thoughtfulness this extraordinary young woman had put into this generous gift. My simple "thank you" just didn’t seem to fit her generosity and thoughtfulness.
I placed the baked goods on the table and read the note that was on the tray. It said, “To our local Firefighters, baked by Jana, age 13.” A lump formed in my throat, so moved I was by this special gift basket.
Don’t get me wrong, we often get gifts around the holidays. Canisters of popcorn, baked goods, candies and other such treats are common gifts, but this one was extra-special in every way. I regretted not spending more time with them and properly showing my appreciation.
Fortunately, I remembered her father telling me where they lived and decided to do something a little special to show our gratitude. We purchased a thank-you card, and all of the firefighters signed it. We also chipped in to buy her and her brother department T-shirts.
Random acts of kindness need to be met with equal acts of gratitude and appreciation. Mother Theresa herself once said, “There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”
This young lady had gone out of her way to bake and deliver such a wonderful gift to us. When people go above and beyond to show their appreciation, it is important to go above and beyond to show your gratitude and reinforce the goodwill that they are bringing to the world around them.
People often do not expect this in return, but there is no greater reward than sincere appreciation. Her incredibly thoughtful and labor-intensive gift brought joy to our firehouse, not only by way of our taste buds but also in knowing that our services are acknowledged and appreciated. I wanted to make sure she knew her gift was appreciated and made a difference not just in our mouths and bellies that day, but in our hearts and lives long after those treats were gone.
Having raised children, I have a special soft spot in my heart for young people who show this kind of generosity, thoughtfulness and kindness. I hope that you firefighters out there will read this and go above and beyond the next time someone goes out of their way to show their appreciation, brings an offering to your firehouse or is otherwise deserving of a great big "thank you."
Or maybe it’s you who goes above and beyond to help someone in your community or simply to show that you care. A little goodwill goes a long way, and a little appreciation will perpetuate that goodwill even further.
If you haven’t already come up with a New Year’s resolution, consider mine: In 2012, I hope to show more appreciation to people in my life and my community who are generously and selflessly giving back and giving to others.
On behalf of FireRecruit.com, I would like to wish everyone a healthy and prosperous new year.