Thanksgiving is coming. We can even smell the sweetness in the could air. All the slogans, in the supermarket or at school, remind us to be thankful, generous and kind, as if every problem can be solved with a warm heart.
Be thankful is also a life motto in my family. My mom told me that kindness should be magic to solve any problem and for long long time, I deeply believed in it.
When I first went to France as an exchange student, I was full of hope and confidence, although my French was very limited. After the arrival at the airport, we should immediately find the nearby railway station and catch the last train. At that time, mobile phone was still a luxury that a student could not afford, neither a laptop computer. Unfortunately, one of my classmate lost his bag, which contained his passport and a new camera. He was desperate.
When all other classmates kept their silence and jumped on the last train, I remembered my mom’s farewell words and stayed with the guy. To our surprise, we did find the bag after looking around. One passenger had picked it up and returned it to the information desk. At that moment, we were so thankful, believing that France was an ideal world. The Autumn night was chilly but we wandered in Paris with a warm heart.
The next train to our destination was scheduled in the early morning, departure from another station in the center of Paris. We were so brave, testing here and there our limited French. We were so hungry but only ate a small bag of chips, given that the budget for the following year was only 6000$. The money was carefully stored in our underwear pockets, pockets that moms sewed for this particular purpose. Thus, we had no money for hotel.
Now when I go to Paris, I barely dare wander after midnight and never carry a big amount of cash. But at that time, we were fearless. Exhausted, we finally found a public garage which seemed to have lights on all night. We sat down on the ground and began to kill time by telling stories of our childhood. It was not romantic at all because I began to feel the real cold. Several hours later, a black and strong guy appeared in front of us. No panic! we tried to explain our embarrassing situation. Without a word, he asked us to follow him.
The next station was the police ? No! We were so lucky and so thankful. He led us to the stairs which kept us from the cold wind. The only word we repeated was “Merci!” The next morning, my classmate suggested to treat us because of our survival and we entered a coffee shop at the railway station. That was the most expensive meal I had during the whole year in France although it was only a breakfast.
I still remember this adventure and the hope that my mom gave me with the magic motto.
However, not all things turned good even I paid attention to be kind and thankful. We were cheated by the residence owner, the bank agent, even the representative of a student union. Being kind sometimes equals being silly. However, my mom tells me that even you are hurt, your tolerance and generosity will reward you soon or later. She is right to some extent because I’m proud of my resilience. But she is wrong too because sometimes you are not willing to lose so much.
Nevertheless, I’m not as kind as before. Life also pushes me to be assertive and prudent. Sometimes, keeping a nice relationship leads to unlimited sacrifice. When the other takes it for granted, you will never have chance to value your sacrifice.
So now I try to pass the same motto to my daughter, asking her to be kind and thankful. Besides, I also tell her to be assertive, to protect anytime her own rights and joy. If tomorrow she is willing to help a classmate at night in Paris, I would totally support her but warn her of caution and safety. If tomorrow she is asked to pay an extra rent because of her foreign student’s status, I would suggest her to seek protection by law.
We are thankful to life, who has gave us good lessons and bad ones. However, our kindness should be respected. On the other hand, we should also never take others’ kindness and generosity for granted. If we do so, we become a silly and arrogant turkey.