One of my children’s most poignant “teachable moments” was cemented in their memories when our family left a “friendship basket” for the “Nice Lawn” guy (see template below).
For years, we had driven past a house near our church and watched as an older gentleman meticulously manicured his lawn.
He fertilized. He weeded. He loved on that lawn. And it showed.
Beautiful LIFE grew from that yard and it warmed our hearts to see the beauty that he tended.
Considering that our lawn is a muddy thorn in our flesh, I have used his work ethic as a weekly life lesson example. For years, he has taught our children many lessons on perseverance and the potential that life offers when we have a ‘stick to it’ mentality.
But the thing I realized is that although we watched him from afar, he didn’t know how much his small actions ministered to us. Actions that he did on a daily basis without any realization that they mattered to someone else.
He was completely unaware.
So we decided to put our words into action and implement this “May Day” basket tradition.
You can name it what ever you want, and implement this during any time of the year. It wasn’t May when we gave it to him, so we called it the “Friendship basket.”
The purpose is to demonstrate gratitude, appreciation and compassion for someone in an anonymous way with out expecting anything in return… and that’s really hard, especially for children. (OK, forget children…I struggle with this as well.
Giving gifts is always fun, but quite often we want that small “thank you” to make sure that the person realizes just how “fortunate” they were that we thought of them. 🙂
Show your children that to give without any expectation in return is an even greater gift; a gift that builds their character.
The memory of giving to the “Good Lawn” guy is precious.
I wrote a small note and stuck it in the basket. We told him the nickname that we had given him and all the life lesson that he had showed our children by his hard work ethic. My kids put little notes in the basket thanking him for his beautiful lawn and flowers. And then we found a few little gifts to share – candy, a garden candle, and my daughter put in one of her dolly paraphernalia, from which I am sure he got a chuckle.
When we went to leave it on his door…(trust me that is a story by itself), he ran out as we were getting ready to drive away.
Oh no, this was not supposed to happen, but the joy that this man showered on my children will be a memory forever etched into my framework.
You would have thought he had won the lottery, and it showed my children that it truly is The Little Things that are the Big Things.
Take time this season to show your compassion for others by making simple baskets and filling them with goodies.
Leave them for others without identifying yourself: hang them on a doorknob, leave it on a desk, place is on a car seat. What a wonderful lesson for the whole family to experience ~ giving without expecting anything in return.
Remember that this is frugal living at it’s finest. A small gesture such as a flower in a basket with a note that says, “I am thinking of you,” goes farther than any dollar spent.
Another idea is THE COMPASSION TREE.
Go on a little hike with your wee ones and along the way, pick up some sticks that could be arranged into a mock tree. Place all of them in a coffee can or vase and place in a prominent place in your home. Cut out egg shapes from pretty colored paper and attach a ribbon to each one. The week before Easter, or for however long you wish, write the names of all the people you want to show compassion toward. Take time each day to stand around the compassion tree and say wonderful things about each of these people. Positive comments will go a long, long way.
(Can you believe I wrote this in April 2009? I thought it was worth a repost all these years later.)
Since our monthly family virtue is Compassion, here are the free down loadable family activity ideas that I post every month. I have included a template to make your own “Compassion (May Day)” baskets. This will enable you to take a few minutes of intentionality and truly make a difference in someone’s life.
I can’t wait to see what some of you crafty ladies do with this.
Download my monthly Compassion activities here.
That is just sooooo NEAT and special!!!! I know the man felt so special when he received his friendship basket! I LOVE the idea!
What a wonderful story~~LOVE it! I can just see that dear man now, smiling full of joy!
Giving freely from the heart brings such joy to the receiver and the giver.
I love this story-what a lesson and what a memory! Thanks for sharing this great reminder on blessing others-I think we may have a project for the day!
Loved this story!
It’s so imprtant to tach children to give from the heart.
What a kind and special thing to do for someone. I think too often we don’t really see the love and attention people do in their job. I’m sure he was filled with joy at your thoughtfulness. Hugs, Marty
You are such a great mom!! You are teaching your kiddos such awesome life lessons!
THAT is a beautiful story…I think sometimes older people get sort of forgotten about. I know that man must have felt so loved! Great idea–you are one together mama! 🙂
What an amazing idea! I am SO doing this, and I know exactly who will receive it. You always have the BEST ideas. What a tremendous blessing you are, Jen!!!
I can’t wait to do this! Teachable moments at it’s finest!!
This is an absolutely lovely idea. Thank you for sharing.
I LOVE your story. I will check out the compassions worksheets when I get the chance.
Thanks for sharing and inspiring!
What a great idea!
This was a lovely story and a wonderful lesson to teach your children.
Blessings to you and your family!
I enjoyed this story so much I posted a link on my blog for my blog readers to enjoy 🙂
So glad you shared this wonderful idea and beautiful story.
Ok you are a total OUAF gal!! I love this story….. You live it girl that is awesome. I think you inspired me!! Thanks
That is an adorable story… You inspired me! Thank you, Mimi
Wonderful story and idea!
beautiful post! we can all show compassion, especially in this season.
Oh, that blesses ME just to read about it…what a fabulous idea!! Love it!
Love the way your header turned out…
I love this! We are pretty big on sharing brownies, cupcakes, and cookies with everyone, but this sounds even better. If they’re not home, we can still leave it.
I thought the story of the lawn guy was so sweet!
1st time on your blog – luv it!
What a wonderful lesson for your children. When I was growing up we gave May Day Baskets to elderly people in our neighborhood. Each year the baskets were a little different but always brought a smile to the face. I have such fond memories of working on this project together with my mother. Thank you for bringing a smile to my face by reminding me of this memory.
Hi Jen~ When you get a spare minute (ha ha), pop over to my blog for a quick visit 🙂
What a beautiful story! I am sure that man was so appreciative of what you guys did for him. How sweet!
Such a sweet memory to make, for you, the children and the “Good Lawn” guy. Your story has inspired me to make a few compassion baskets myself. The Grandkids will love this project.
This is so wonderful! One of my mother goals is to teach my childre to put other’s before themselves. This is perfect. Thank you so much!
That is so nice!
Wow–this brings back memories! My Dad used to help me cut flowers from our garden on May Day, and I would leave them for an elderly neighbor..thinking I was being “sneaky,” not realizing that it was obvious the flowers were from our garden….I loved it! May Day was also my Dad’s birthday–I lost him almost 6 years ago to cancer, and hope to continue this tradition as my little ones get a little older…
Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful idea (and details) with us! Happy Easter.
I loved this story! It was very well-written, too. What a beautiful lesson to teach your children. Blessings!
I love this– my mom used to help us make May Day baskets for some of our elderly neighbors; I had totally forgotten about it! Thank you for this reminder of simple kindnesses…
oxxer I like this history. what a beauty…
Such a great idea! Love it! Thanks for sharing!
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I am such a girl. I’m crying over this sweet post! thank you for telling it, Jen. I know those sweet kids of yours were bursting and I can only imagine what the Good Lawn guy must have felt. To be thankful and appreciative of people is such a ministry.
The only thing that would have blessed me more than reading this would be to have seen him and the children will y’all delivered the basket. What a terrific story.
What a blessing to have read your story. I found you over at Chatting At The Sky and am so glad 🙂 I think my kiddos and I will have fun with this project. Thank you very much for sharing your tender heart with us 🙂
I love May Day Baskets, and what a great story.
Good teaching moment for children and adults.
Another way to demonstrate caring is called “:Pass it on: involves secretly hanging a decorated bag or can, with treats inside, on a door. Leave a note so the person receiving the gift can make their own bag to hang on someones door. Children enjoy doing this in their neighborhood. This is good around a major holiday so that there is a good stopping date. Of course supervise the children so they are not threatened by a person or animal. Remember try to not get caught.
I love your idea, Laura. Thanks so much for sharing.