It’s the time of year when you find cookies everywhere. Offices everywhere are filled with Christmas cookies of all kinds, seemly every day. At my work, we had a lady stop by and drop off enough cookies to last us all for a couple days. It brightens everybody’s mood.
For me, it always reminds me of my grandmother Iona, and the kindness that always accompanied her cookies.
And boy did she like to bake! She always had cookies. Her freezer was always full, and her counter stocked.
The story I like to tell is of a time when I was just a small kid. It was 1978, and I was 7. A family had just moved into the house next to my grandparents in Princeton.
The family had two middle-school-age boys, and were the kind of dirt poor you just don’t see as much these days. The two boys would regularly run around outside the house in their tighty-whiteys, covered in dirt. When you did see them dressed, you’d usually see them shoeless.
They were trouble too. The kind of kids who broke windows for fun. The kinds of kids who got into fights, and took things from yards. The kinds of kids who stole your bike.
I was banned from going anywhere near them. I was explicitly told to stay away.
Well, one night they got into my grandparents’ garage, which was unlocked in 1978. Then they started my grandfather’s truck, which he left the keys in in 1978.
Then they drove the truck right through the cinder-block wall of the garage, destroying the garage and the truck in one fell swoop.
There were police involved, and my grandfather was hashing out the trouble with the neighbor, but Grandma went about it differently.
She invited those boys into her home, got out her cookies, and some milk, and she made friends with those boys.
As she put it, they absolutely couldn’t believe they weren’t being screamed at by her. She told us how they sat there eating their cookies with wide eyes and wonder.
It wasn’t what they expected, nor what they had ever encountered. Kindness can be big even when it’s small if you’ve never seen it.
The garage and truck eventually got worked out, and the boys still got into plenty of neighborhood trouble after that.
But you know what they didn’t do?
They didn’t do another thing over the years to the house of the kind lady with the cookies. That is, except smile and wave at her.
As my grandma put it “Why would I ever want to make an enemy?” And of course she was serving me cookies while she told me this.
Why indeed, Grandma.
CHAD HANNON is a lifelong resident of the Illinois Valley, raised in Princeton, and now raising his family in Spring Valley. Many will know him as the former ‘Dog’ from the WALS 102 Morning Doghouse, or as “Qdog” from Q Hit Music. He can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.