We sent the invitations out a couple of weeks ago. The RSVP's trickled in, but as of only an hour before the party I still hadn't heard from five of the twenty invited guests. Inconsiderate, but not unexpected - I've done this kids' birthday party thing a few times before. As usual, I planned and bought for all the invited guests, knowing that at least half of those who hadn't replied would just show up without a word of explanation from the parents and the other half would never be seen or heard from again.
Ten minutes after the party started all of the expected guests but one were there and running around our house and yard screaming at the top of their lungs like animals - people are incredibly prompt when someone offers to take their kids off their hands for a couple of hours - when the doorbell rang.
It was the one last expected guest, his arms full of gifts and homemade birthday cards, his left eye puffy and red, his father behind him full of apologies. He had pinkeye (super infectious) and couldn't join us, but wanted to come by to wish my son a happy birthday and bring him a gift and a card he'd spent the morning making for him.
I was touched.
That kind of courtesy is rare. Basic manners, politeness, kind gestures, courtesy to our neighbours and fellow human beings seems to be lacking these days.
What a wonderful lesson for that father to teach his son. What a wonderful lesson for my kids to learn.
Never underestimate the value of a kind gesture.