I read a lot of crap about millenials. How lazy they are, how entitled. I know I'm biased but I raised two of them and I think they are pretty awesome. Frankly, I think a lot of what we read about that generation is propaganda by the previous generation (that would be mine) in an attempt to convince these young people there is something wrong with themselves so they will shut up, not make waves and leave more of the goodies (like jobs and fair wages and health care) in the pockets of the wealthy. But that's not what I want to write about today.
I want to write about how my 34-year-old son made Christmas magic for his world this year.
I hardly know where to begin.
He's a drummer (he can play anything but excels at jazz, especially the ballads). He pulled together a trio with a terrific bass player who he works with often and an amazing guitar player that he plays with occasionally. They did a free, 2-hour concert in front of our gorgeous library. They were happy to do well in tips (the area was packed the whole time), but what he spoke of most enthusiastically was how they might design a concert around a specific jazz great and include some "lessons" on what made the artist memorable, playing only music made famous by that artist. To make it more educational for that venue.
One night he was in the In-N-Out line when he saw the woman in the car behind him. She was Muslim. So, because he wanted her to feel welcome and happy living in our town, he paid for her order. And just before leaving for his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, he came to ask me if I had an unopened bar of Wholly Hemp soap. We've both come to love the products from this safe stuff cosmetics manufacturer. I'm not as fond of the soap as he, so I had a bar of lavender that I'd tried once and not used. He had an unopened bar (fragrance was Snickerdoodle) that he had planned to put in his bathroom soap dish. Instead, he took my lavender for his soap dish and happily trotted off with his new bar of Snickerdoodle to gift his teacher.
It was a joy to get home from work one day to find the Christmas lights up and lit. And on Christmas Eve morning, he fattened up his slim frame with bath towels and sofa pillows to play Santa for a houseful of little kids, children of his best friend and grandchildren of a family he adopted as one of his own many years ago. On Christmas night he again donned the Santa personae to thrill his nephew with whom we Skyped Christmas Day.
My son's gifts to me were especially thoughtful and included the latest Sara Barielles album, What's Inside: Songs from Waitress, a tote that says "DO MORE OF WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY," a BB8 beanie and he gifted me with this fabulous print by Patrick Fisher. Fisher and my son are old friends and I had seen some of his work; I just never dreamed he had done a portrait of one of my idols.
But by far the best gift he gave (although I doubt the recipient really understands the significance) was the result of an injury to his car.
One day a couple of weeks ago he walked out to go to work and found the driver's side mirror hanging by a wire, a dent in his driver's door, a red piece of plastic he believed came out of a brake light cover, and a streak of black paint on the side. Our new neighbors have two teenage sons and a steady stream of visitors hanging out with them, one of whom drives a monster truck. Black. After contacting the police and insurance company, my son texted me at work to ask me to keep an eye out (and a camera ready) in case the black truck showed up, as he believed the driver of the truck had backed into him. Within a few days the truck showed up again. My son took pictures of the car and license plate and especially the broken brake light on the right hand side. He found that the piece of plastic he had picked up off the ground under the hanging side mirror fit perfectly into the broken brake light.
With that information in hand, he had a discussion with the driver, who had just turned eighteen. The driver denied hitting the car, and my son let it go for a night. The next day he wrote a note to the kid, giving him until the following Monday to decide to "man up," take responsibility for the damage and provide the insurance information to get the car fixed. He pointed out to the kid that, as of that moment, the kid could have to repair the car AND have a hit-and-run on his record. My son gave a copy to the kid and to the neighbors he had been visiting.
Within a couple of hours the kid called and confessed, apologized, claiming that he just wanted to talk to his parents before talking to my son. At that point the father took over and in the end had the car repaired without involving the insurance or police.
It was a kindness that my son's Baby Boomer Mom would not have extended. I wanted to slap that kid with everything we could. But this is what I love about the Millenials in my world. They are driven by kindness and a concern for community with a spirit of forgiveness. I don't know if this kid realizes now what my son (and his dad) saved him from, and time will tell if it was the right decision. But I hope that, eventually, the kid grown up will remember that someone cut him some slack.
Maybe he'll pass it on.