I’ve been known to collect a few bobbleheads or nodders.
They’re like dolls with heads attached to a spring, so that when you tap their noggins, they bobble. I have them to help me make decisions on important matters. They always seem to answer yes. Just the other day I asked my Walter “Sweetness” Payton doll if I should run out for a bite to eat and sure enough, it was time. My Larry “Legend” Bird doll helps me decide if my wife is right or wrong when we argue. He’s like a therapist.
I could be a bobblehead. I’ve always been called big-headed, not as in pompous, but big-headed, as in having a large head. It’s been a joke among family and friends for years. What they don’t know is that I use it to nod with.
I pass numerous people on my way to my office everyday. Eyes often connect. Sometimes eyes connect between me and someone and nothing happens. If I can help it, I spark a warm sense of “I’m glad I’ve passed you today” when we do meet. I nod or say, “Hi, how ya’ doing?”
I usually receive a response.
I’ll never forget the days following Sept. 11, 2001. I could pass anyone on the street, toss a greeting their way and catch one in return. We shared an understanding that we were better people than those who greeted our fellow Americans that day, sadly, with death.
These days, we’re busy on our way to the nearest coffee shop or en route to pick up a gift card for someone. I’ve nearly become road kill, via the sidewalk, as zombie-like humans put their heads down and motor forward.
Let’s don’t get too religious. But, remember that God greeted us one fateful Christmas with his own hello.
“Meet my son,” he said. “He’s your savior.”
You never know what you’ll receive when you share a nod of the head. You may just get a “warm fuzzy” from smiling at the person whom you just passed. You may make their day without even knowing it.
I don’t always feel like speaking to strangers. We tell our kids not to talk to strangers. Some unfamiliar faces aren’t very appealing. For others, the way they're dressed causes us to see them as a threat to our safety. And sometimes I'm having a bad day.
I apologize to each of you that I’ve never spoken to when we’ve come face to face. Sharing a square of concrete on the side of the street can touch someone, especially during the holidays.
I remember feeling so grateful to be alive Sept. 12, 2001. I wanted to smile at everyone I met. If we weren’t smiling back then, we were crying. On the street, greetings were as abundant as the pain at ground zero.
During this season of giving, don’t buy a gift when you already have one to give. A passing “hello” might be all it takes to boost someone’s spirit. As the saying goes, the biggest gifts can come in the smallest of packages.
Gift buying in this economy can be expensive. Smiling is free!
Merry Christmas everyone.
Jay Hardy is the father of a six-year-old and a baby in Holly Springs. He's a former sports photographer and reporter for WRAL-TV. Find him here once a month on Wednesdays.