Igniting Good in the Fall

I love fall. I love that first morning when I step out onto my deck to crisp fresh air, all the mugginess (if you live in the south you know what I mean) of summer is gone. I love the smell of wood burning from my neighbor’s fireplace. I love the burgundy colored leaves of my dogwoods and the golden yellow of the maples against the bright blue skies. I love bundling up in sweatshirts or wrapping myself in my favorite sweater. I love that that I can finally clean up my tired garden and put it to bed for the winter. I love making pumpkin bread for my children and for my niece and nephew. I love Thanksgiving: it’s my favorite fall holiday. For me it is a day shared with family and friends. A day to thank God for all the blessings in my life.  And I think Fall is the perfect time to “Ignite Good!”

When my son was little we would “Ignite Good!” together.  One year we delivered pumpkin pies to Wayside Christian Mission.  At the time I was a volunteer with Kentucky Harvest. Their mission was to deliver food from local restaurants, bakeries and groceries etc to homeless shelters in our city. I remember watching my son’s four year old little legs as he carefully carried pie after pie with me from the car to the mission. I remember first having to explain why we were giving away all of the pies and why he could not have even a single piece.

One year “Igniting Good!” became a family affair. My mom, dad, siblings, their spouses, and children served dinner at a local mission, St Vincent de Paul. We all left grateful for our lives and thankful for the experience.

Another year, we traded in the Macy’s Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning to “Ignite Good” by taking Thanksgiving meals (through the Meals on Wheels program) to shut-ins. As we drove around the city that morning I remember explaining to my son why I thought this was an important way to spend our morning. That the personal contact was maybe as important as the meal itself.  Knowing that later that day he would be surrounded by family and friends, he was so young he found it hard to imagine. However after letting him know we might be the only people that they talked to that day, he greeted each recipient with an exuberant” Happy Thanksgiving!”

My favorite “Ignite Good!” moment was actually a few weeks after Thanksgiving. My friend Cindy and I decided to decorate a Christmas tree at St John’s Center for Homeless Men that are homeless and recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. I approached my son’s kindergarten teacher and she had the children cut out and color ornaments for the tree. The December night we arrived at the mission was cold and bitter. As we entered the shelter we passed men with expressionless faces shivering in line as they waited to enter. It did not take the three of us (my son came, too) long to decorate the tree with the white lights, the red and green balls that Cindy and I had brought, and the special paper ornaments made by Justin and his class. As we finished, the same men we had seen shivering outside began to pass by the tree. They were warm now and had had something to eat – for many probably their only meal that day. This time their faces more animated some said thank you; some simply smiled. I will never know what the tree meant to those men but as the three of us walked back out into the night the cold did not seem as bitter.

These opportunities that I have taken in the Fall to “Ignite Good!” with my son have made it an even more meaningful season to me.  I hope you “Ignite Good!” with your own children.  Please share your own stories in the comments below!

-Deborah Walker (Mama Gigi)

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