I don’t usually feel compelled to tell the world my story, although sometimes I do break those beliefs. This one, though, this one is just too good to keep to myself.
Almost 30 years ago I was given a Little Tikes desk and chair combo. It was made from that super thick plastic that was big in the Eighties. I was 2 or 3 at the time – just beginning my foray into the creative world that would require such executive furniture. Here’s a picture of me working at my prized desk while my brother Blake cheers me on.
I come from a family of movers. My grandparents have moved maybe 20 times in my life so far; my parents maybe 8 or 9 times. After I finished high school, even I succumbed to the “rolling stone” mentality. With all the moving going on throughout my life, it was hard to hold on to memoirs and sentimental items for very long. The desk didn’t make it past the Nineties, but this little yellow chair had somehow managed to stick with me throughout my childhood and even into adulthood.
Somewhere around 2012, my mother packed everything up (including that little yellow chair) and moved to North Bend, WA for a job opportunity. After the job dried up she began the process of selling her home and finding new work. She asked her terrifically kind neighbor, Al, to come by the house and empty out her storage shed while she was away. Al obliged, and when she returned the shed was empty and the house was put on the market. After I had heard the news that she was putting the house up for sale, I asked her about the one thing that was out there that I wanted back; my yellow chair. Through tears and a broken heart, my mother had to explain to me that the chair was gone. It had been picked up with the rest of her belongings and donated to The MORE Love Project in Kirkland, WA. After hanging up the phone with her, I broke down. It seemed so ridiculous, crying to my wife over a stupid plastic chair. For some reason, though, this one stung. The whole year prior had been what seemed like a never-ending string of events pointing me to realize much of my roots were disappearing. The things I thought I could return to were either missing or just lost and gone forever. My grandpa passed away, my hometown wasn’t welcoming when I visited last, the music venue I “grew up” at closed; all these past constants in my life were disappearing and leaving me feeling lost.
In a rather uncharacteristic move, I shared the story about my chair with my team at work and it apparently struck a chord. After hearing the story, my boss decided to play detective and hop on the case. He was adamant that I send him a picture of a look-alike and what charity it was donated to. I complied with hesitancy due to this being such a lost cause. A couple of months later, during our weekly meeting at work, my boss tells me he can only sit in for a bit as he must go to his mentee’s graduation. A package arrived for me earlier that day with a return address from Washington and the team had hidden it from me until this moment. As they handed me the box and I started to open it, the rush of emotions was too heavy to hold in. I do my best to keep composure and stay professional at work, but this was just too much. There it was, still dirty from all the years of travel, with my blue crayon handwriting on the back that said “NICK”; it was my yellow chair!
Somehow, he tracked down the people who handled the donations.
Somehow, the person in charge of those donations (thank you Michelle at The MORELove Project) still had one piece sitting in her garage leftover, a yellow chair.
Somehow, this chair made its way back to the arms of a father who wanted nothing more than to see his little boy enjoying the same mundane plastic piece that he himself so proudly toted around.
What I’ve learned from this, though, was that there still is strength in people. It seems so rare these days that good news outweighs bad or that things are looking bright. This season has never been about buying things for someone, it’s about seeing the joy on someone’s face when you’ve done something to change their lives even in the most minuscule of ways. Sure, often purchasing something for someone else will light them up (especially the kiddos!), but to truly, meaningfully give a gift takes work. It takes heart. It also takes knowing one another. So instead of spending your holiday season at the store this year, maybe spend some time getting to know the people in your life you might take for granted. Even better, try spending some time getting to know a stranger. I’ve made new friends over this past year just by taking a chance and speaking to people I didn’t know. You just never know who you might connect with, and eventually, you might find your new best friend. Who knows? Maybe 30 years from now you’ll give someone a gift from 2017 that will give them some sense of home. After all, home is where the heart is, or wherever you plant your seat.
Thanks to The MORELove Project for all their help with this! You’ve truly made another family’s holiday season special this year!
Happy Holidays Everyone!
(Here’s a picture of our son Rigby sitting on his “new” yellow chair!)