kindness activist

kindness activist

Monday, March 14, 2016

Flat Tire Kindness

This is my dad. 

Dad on the beach on Sanibel Island, FL
He showed me one of the earliest examples of kindness that I can remember.

When I was growing up, our Christmas tradition was to celebrate Christmas EVE at my paternal grandparents’ house, Christmas MORNING at our house, and Christmas AFTERNOON at my maternal grandparents’ house.  We all lived in the same town, Omaha, so it was possible to celebrate 3 Christmases over the course of a 24 hour period.

Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa Thompson's house circa the early 1970s
One year my dad and I were out rushing about late in the afternoon on December 24.  I am not sure what we were doing, I can’t recall, but if I had to guess I bet we were getting a last minute gift from him to give to my mom.  J  I remember going with him when I was little to a store called Younkers at Center Mall and he would tell a sales clerk Mom’s favorite color (pink) and size and she would pull together an entire outfit – pants, sweater, jacket, scarf – and put it in a big box with pretty tissue paper for Christmas.  So I am guessing that this December 24th outing with just the 2 of us was one of those secret gift getting expeditions.

Dad at our house for Christmas, 1970 (see the little rocking chair in the background?  I still have that!)
What I DO remember about the outing was us in the car on the way home and coming across someone with a flat tire.  It had already turned dark, which meant that we were actually due at Grandma and Grandpa Thompson’s house to eat dinner and open gifts.  Other cars were rushing by the car stranded on the side of the road with the flat tire, but my dad PULLED OVER.  I remember thinking that we did not have TIME to help, but Dad said that indeed we did, that in fact we NEEDED to help this person.  They were probably trying to rush to some holiday event, too, and needed assistance.

So we stopped.  And he got out and helped them change their tire.  And we were late for the Christmas Eve celebration, but the world did not stop turning because of it.

In fact, the world got just a tiny bit better.  Because I learned the lesson from my dad that sometimes you need to sacrifice a bit, put yourself out some, to be kind and help someone else.  And that being kind mattered more than sitting down in time for dinner or opening a pile of gifts. 

Dad holding me - 1966.  He had great hair then, didn't he?
It sounds corny, but that lesson was a great Christmas present.  I don’t think I ever thanked him for teaching me by example that night, and I doubt he even remembers it, but I sure do.  THANKS DAD.  I think of you changing that flat tire often when I see someone who needs help and for a fleeting second I wonder if I should be the one to pause my life and offer assistance. 

My wedding day - hug from Dad

At Dad's birthday party

Thanks for the lesson, Dad.  I love you.

Old time Christmas with my mom and dad.  That outfit was probably the one he gave her the Christmas before!!
This is exactly the type of outfit I remember him getting for her.

One last Dad photo - with a huge halibut he caught in Alaska!!


  1. Love this. Parents are our first and most influential teachers.

    1. I agree. I am in Omaha this week and I got to show this piece to my dad. He cried reading it (he also admired his flattop haircut in the old photos :) ). I was surprised and delighted to learn that he remembers this incident, too.