Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Gift of Family Inclusion

With the Christmas season underway, I thought I'd share one of my favorite gift-giving stories. While I received the gift, this story serves only to praise and thank the giver.

It happened right after Christmas two years ago...


Immediate response.

Real time reactions.

Boy those are great! Some of you might not agree, but then again, you may have the luxury of working in an environment where you are afforded the instant feedback that signals "a job well done" or "I'm not following you". Public speaking is one of such occupations. Teaching is another.

Broadcast Meteorology is not.

Now, don't think I'm forgetting about my good friend e-mail or his older cousin the telephone. These little dandies are great for almost real time communication, but they aren't quite real time. Someone has to first type the message or must first locate your phone number and dial to let you know that, "you couldn't be more wrong on the forecast today, Loser". These media have indeed been used to give me feedback, but I often wonder if what I do makes a difference to the people from whom I don't hear. Well, someone answered that question yesterday.

As I was coming off the set from doing cut-ins, a nose and pair of eyes peered over the studio divisor from the newsroom. Not long after, a muddled, high-pitched male voice filtered through and over the particle board wall.

"Hey James, I have a gift for you back here", Steven declared.

I walked around the studio, through the very cold garage...don't ask, it's small market television...and into the newsroom. Five reporters scurried past and almost knocked me over in a mad dash for batteries, cameras, tapes, and the rest of their regalia before hitting the streets and calling their beats. I stepped to the producer’s desk where a large box and a plastic bag sat. Nick sat behind them, barely visible.

"This was dropped off Friday before Christmas during the 5 O’clock show. This guy said that his mother, his wife, and his niece made this for you. They all love the Bonnie Belles commercial you did and they all think you have an honest face. They watch every morning and think you're great."

I opened the bag. Misjudging the size and weight of the contents, I dropped the box on the floor. As I unraveled the dark blue mass, a blanket began to emerge. Marrie, seeing that it was bigger than I had bargained for, grabbed a corner and helped me open it up.

This was no blanket. This was a handmade quilt!

This thing is heavy, gi-normous and everything a quilt is supposed to be! Whoever made this thing is gonna get a huge thank you! I searched for a card and found it towards the bottom of the bag. It had stuck to some of the packaging tape.

Hold the phone! The card was signed but only with first names. CRAP! I'm never going to know whom to thank for this great display of family inclusion. There are no last names, no phone numbers, no addresses, no city names...nothing! Well, what do TV people do when they need to send out a message? They use the TV, of course!

So, yesterday on our noon show, I displayed the quilt and told the story behind its arrival here and offered a sincere "thank you" to its makers. Everyone on the noon show staff was awe struck at the detail and handiwork apparent by the stitching of tangible love. I was so proud of my station and the work we do and the ability we have to touch people in a meaningful way. However, I couldn't help but be utterly disappointed that I'd never be able to thank the individuals responsible for my joy.

This morning, an electronic message arrived in my inbox. The daughter-in-law of the quilter saw our noon show and wished to answer my request. So thank you, Betty of Buckhannon, for your masterful skill and your heart of gold. Thank you for your steady hands and the gift of your time. Thank you for the place in your heart I hold and thank you for the piece of your heart I have the honor to hold close forever!



Kenny Simpson

One time I got a gift card to Applebees by one of my students...wait that is nowhere close to this. That is a neat story.


Quilts are fantastic, and normally the people who make them put a lot of time, effort, and love into it. They must think you're pretty special!

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