by Hailey Z.
In LaMoure, North Dakota, our guest speaker V. J. Smith spoke to us about the importance of giving thanks and thank yous. It was early in the morning on the first day of school when we were introduced to him. He told a story about a man that wasn’t given a very significant job in the career world, but he became a very significant role in everyday life. The man’s job in the career world was a cashier at WalMart, and his part in everyday life was simply being grateful with anything thrown at him. Anything that everyone else would think was negative, he gave a very positive spin on it. Even when he could be in the lowest of lows, he could make another person’s day a lot better by saying thank you and giving a grateful hug. The speaker’s main focus was to remind us that in the state of North Dakota, “North Dakota Nice” should still be something to be proud of and something we always do. Not only does this really hit home, but it also reminded me of my dad.
It all started with a twist of the doorknob and the shuffle between the door and the door frame. My dad steps through the garage door with his dirty work boots, soiled pants, and a combination of grease and sweat on his shirt and along his black-haired arms. As he bent over to take off his work boots, the aroma of spaghetti filled the air. When the aroma filled his lungs, a hungry smile formed on his face. He was practically drooling over my shoulder when he walked up behind me as I was mixing the pot of spaghetti on the stove.
“Is there going to be garlic bread too?” he said with calm glee.
“I can check the freezer for some if we want some. You’ll just have to watch the sauce,” I replied.
As dad took over the stove, I quickly walked through the laundry room in order to go down the steps to the pantry and opened the freezer lid. The cool air climbed up my arms as I shifted pizza after pizza to finally find the box of Texas Toast at the bottom. I treked back up the stairs and saw a quick glimpse of dad sneaking a spoonful of spaghetti sauce in his mouth. I smiled to myself as I began preparing the toast for the oven.
It seemed like forever when the timer finally dinged. Almost as if on cue, the rest of the family who were sitting in the livingroom headed to the already set table and waited in anticipation to actually start eating dinner. Dad sat at the head of the table while my brother Alan and Mom sat on the left side of him, and my sister Sam and I sat on the right. We began dishing out plates in a timely manner. The parmesan, salt and pepper, garlic toast, and cups were sent around to fill the needs of everyone eating. After the cranks of the salt and pepper and the cluttering cup sounds came to an end, the scraping of forks on plates started. We all sat filling our stomachs to the brim. Mom finally asked the burning question in her mind that she always asks, “How was school?” This sparked a little bit of conversation with a couple of comments in return. As us children were talking about our day, Dad interrupts by holding his plate out for another helping of spaghetti. Mind you, he has already had a heaping pile of spaghetti, and he now wants another plate full.
“Holy cow, Dad!” I said in amazement as I was scooping the spaghetti onto his plate.
“It’s the first thing I’ve had all day--not including the popcorn I had from the popcorn machine for lunch!” he exclaimed, for he was ready to scarf down another helping.
I handed back the plate full of food with the parmesan and pepper after.
“Your dad thinks that since I’m the wife, I should make him lunch everyday.” intervened Mom before putting a forkful of spaghetti in her mouth.
“And it could be as simple as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!” Dad jokingly replied.
As the dinner further commenced, I thought of a brilliant idea that would Dad would appreciate.
As night came to an end, the morning sun broke through the sky and awakened the Earth. I woke up around 6:30 and went about my normal morning routine except this time I had a little rush in my step. When my hair and my teeth were brushed through, deodorant was applied, and my makeup brushed on, I brought out the bread and peanut butter and put it on the counter. I turned around and opened the refrigerator door and scanned the shelves for the grape jelly. Just my luck, we were out. Instead, I went to the cupboard above the counter and spun the lazy Susan, the revolving tray in my cupboard, to find the perfect ingredient for Dad’s sandwich: Nutella. I smeared peanut butter and Nutella with much care and cautiousness to get the spread on every edge and corner. I put the slices of bread together, slid the sandwich into a Ziploc baggy and signed it “For Dad. Made with love.” That was roughly the time dad came out tucking in his John Deere work shirt and started to grab his work boots. He walked over to the dining table to sit down and put them on. As soon as I saw him, I slipped on a pair of shoes, exited through the garage door, and planted the “bomb” in his pick-up.
Fast forward a couple years, I still surprise him every once in awhile. He still thanks me for making him a sandwich when he gets home and tells me how it hit the spot and it tasted really good. He has called that sandwich the “Nutter butter” sandwich or a Reese’s sandwich. Just last week, I made two sandwiches for him and he was overjoyed. He also still complains about having popcorn for lunch but that’s beside the point! Because my school listened to V. J. Smith about the importance of kindness and gratefulness, I believe we should all have more people like my dad: thankful, even in the smallest gestures.