BE MY GUEST: Random Branches of Kindness

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Each year around September, our senses are forced into a mechanical march through the calendar pages. This march is anchored by the persistent drumbeat of decorations that pounds its way through the stores we visit, the visual feast of lights on homes in the neighborhood, the smell of the seasons changing in the air, sounds of holiday music.

Orange in October for Halloween, complete with pumpkins and skulls, little witches, and bags of candy that fill the aisles of the grocery store. November brings us fall leaves, turkeys and cornucopias, the aroma of delicious salty stuffing and pumpkin pie. December is decked out with twinkly lights, candy canes, happy music and hugs that gently remind us to count our blessings. There is no other time of year when we march collectively in such unison.

I am one of those people who walk into Walgreens in October, and despite my knowing very well what month it is, I exclaim, “I can’t believe the Halloween stuff is out already, we just finished summer!” But secretly, I am excited by these obvious shifts in the tide.

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This time of year in Austin, something truly magical accompanies this procession. There is a highway that cuts through my part of town that is surrounded by all kinds of trees. They are round, low, bushy, green, with nothing uniform about them. They are most certainly not Christmas trees. After Thanksgiving these trees mysteriously become decorated, one by one appearing with a new outfit proclaiming, “Tah-dahh!” I thought it was some kind of joke or vandalism when I first moved here from Los Angeles. But now I know better. Individual citizens take time out of their busy holiday lives to buy decorations, pull their cars off the side of the highway, and decorate these little trees. Each has its own personality: some are beautiful, others are kitschy, some look like Charlie Brown’s meager friend. It is absolutely extraordinary. 

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Together these trees make many statements. They say that a little effort matters. They say that traditions with family and friends are bonding experiences. They say that you can love your community so much that you desire to make it a better place. They say that we should share our joy with others, and celebrate when others share with us. They remind us to take a moment during the journey to stop and appreciate.

All this may sound corny, but I am a sucker for sentiment. Even though you may not have these special little trees in your neighborhood, we might all consider making an effort to seek, create, and discover this same kind of magic now and throughout the rest of the year too.

Candidly yours,

Michelle Harrosh (Austin, TX)