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Reality can be embarrassing or exceptionally caring

January 4, 2009
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

Oh, my goodness. Reality just bit me.

Just close your eyes and think of yourself as a teen. Even if you didn't have everything you wanted, you felt OK with what you had and tried to make the best of it. Most of the time, anyway.

My best was a little pink ribbon. A skinny, little pink ribbon on a hair clip. When I wanted to feel special, I stuck that skinny, little pink ribbon on a hair clip into my hair. I remember doing it. Gladly and on my own volition. It was the finishing touch when I felt as spiffy as I could get.

It's a wonder anyone ever talked to me.

My sister Barbara banged home this unhappy history lesson last weekend when she and her husband Ray were in Dodge for a Saturday night Christmas party at my sister Cindy's house. Being a Christmas party, there were gifts. Barbara stuck photos in the horns of Dasher, Dancer and Prancer for me. Cindy got Vixen, Comet and Cupid. Donner (or Donder) and Blitzen got away, I guess. The photos were from our childhood, some from Christmas parties at our Pitsor grandparents on the hill at 16th Street and Fifth Avenue South.

The house is gone now. Heck, even the hill is gone, but I digress.

Before I even looked at all my photos, Barbara asks, "What was going on with that bow?" And everybody laughed.

Immediately I knew what bow. I even knew what picture I would see. Our whole family in front of Grandma's Christmas tree, me in my pink dress with fake lace around the half sleeve. I loved that dress, and poking that pink ribbon in my hair seemed a perfect addition to the look.

Ouch. If I'd known better, I'd have embarrassed myself.

Kids today grow up much faster, methinks, and their concerns reach further afield.

For instance, Donna Zwiefel, of Algona, tells about her grandson, Reed Russell, 14-year-old son of Shawn and Mike Russell, of Fort Dodge.

The family, it seems, has seen an older man around town on many occasions, a man who seems to be down on his luck, maybe homeless. Just before Christmas Shawn and Reed were going into Hy-Vee when they saw him by the trash container eating meatloaf from a foam container.

Reed looked at his mother and said, "Mom, I have $10 with me. Can I give it to that man?"

Who could say no to that?

Reed tapped the man on the shoulder, said "Merry Christmas" and handed him the money. The man laughed, saying thank you through his glee.

"It was so sweet of Reed," Zwiefel said. "He really has a tender heart for people."

When Reed gets to be 61 years old, he can look back at this point in his life and not have to wonder if what he did was embarrassing. It's not. It's empathetic, caring, the act of a person whose life is filled with love.

And there's no pink ribbon to wonder about.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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