Fifty years ago “Sesame Street” debuted on public television. To celebrate this remarkable milestone, Covenant Living at the Shores has an elaborate display of “Sesame Street” memorabilia. Even though the residents on our campus are now senior adults, they were parents of preschoolers when “Sesame Street” took to the airwaves of public television.
Because I was a senior in high school, I wasn’t one of Jim Henson’s disciples. But I was aware enough of what was going on in popular culture to recognize the names of his Muppets who were making news. There was Kermit the Frog, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch in addition to Bert and Ernie.
I also was clued in to some of the music associated with the residents on “Sesame Street.” The lyrics of one of the songs asked “Who are the people in your neighborhood?” As with Mister Rogers, Jim Henson and his writers and puppeteers were concerned with helping children recognize and appreciate the various people that contributed to their lives.
Having an appreciation for those “people in our neighborhood” is just as important to us as to our children or grandchildren. And yet it is easy to take such people for granted. With a month to go before our nation celebrates Thanksgiving, I’m all for getting an early start and finding ways to express gratitude to those individuals who make life meaningful to us every day. Here’s hoping you’re willing to join me.
Make a list of those professions without which your little world would not turn as smoothly. There’s your mail carrier, FedEx driver and Amazon Prime delivery person. There’s your barista, the person who does your nails and your haircutter. There’s your landscaper, your housecleaner and pizza delivery guy. There’s your pastor, priest or rabbi. How about your doctor, pharmacist and therapist?
Life is a challenge to be sure. But can you imagine how much more challenging your life would be if these “people were not in your neighborhood?” And most of them are not accustomed to being thanked for the necessary (often overlooked) work they do.
Because there are so many, it’s unrealistic to give each person on your list a Starbucks gift card. But you could write a handwritten note and leave it where they could find it. Personal expressions of thanks are not as common as they once were, but you likely can personally attest to how an unexpected note of appreciation makes you feel.
There’s only one holiday that even comes close to honoring the jobs people do that make the world a better place. But since Labor Day is considered the unofficial end of summer, we tend to spend that day coupled with a couple other days and celebrate ourselves. We enjoy a long weekend, but we come up short when it comes to showing thanks to people who most deserve it.
Maybe we need a new national holiday called “People in Our Neighborhood Day.”