It took most of us out of our comfort zone.  It took about two weeks for it to be completed.  There were no life-changing results or dramatic emotions.  But, it did make each one of us a little more aware of those who have touched our individual lives in some way. 

One night last month I decided to put a challenge before my family.  Each person was given two blue ribbons that said, “I did it!” in gold lettering.  Then each person was instructed to think of a person who has been a positive influence in their life.  They were to give both ribbons to that person, tell the person why they were being recognized, and then instruct that person to give one of the blue ribbons to someone else in like manner.

As my family stared at me with blank expressions I gave a couple of examples, “Has there been a friend who has helped you through a hard time?  Or maybe there is a neighbor that you admire.  Or did you witness someone doing a good deed?”  I could see that they were starting to get it, but were still reluctant to actually go out and tell someone that they’d made a difference.  That is a little scary, especially for teenagers.  Would the recipient of their ribbons think they were weird?  Would they reject it?  And would the person then even want to give the second ribbon away? 

To make sure each family member was stretched in some way, I made it a rule that we couldn’t give our ribbons to family members.  I could just see all the kids quickly giving the ribbons to each other just so they could unload them and be done with the assignment.  The rule didn’t apply to the people we gave our ribbons to, just to us.  I gave them a week to complete the challenge.

Shroom was the first to respond.  He got up from the couch, walked across the street, and gave his ribbons to our Bishop who was out working in his yard.  His reason for honoring our Bishop?  “Because he has always been there for me.” 

Mack and Juju completed the challenge the next day.  Mack chose to honor her math teacher, Mrs. R.  Her reason?  “Because of all the help she has given me after school and because she increased my brain greatly.”  Increasing a brain!  Wow, that is something to be recognized for!  Juju gave her ribbons to a student in her peer tutoring class who “needs to be loved.”  The student gave the second ribbon to a classmate who laughed and threw it down.  But, as soon as the classmate realized it was for real, she picked up the ribbon and accepted it.

Hoob waited two days and then presented her math teacher, Mrs. P, with the ribbons because she felt that her teacher had helped her understand math better.  Mrs. P gave her husband the second ribbon.

Yawlin decided to give his two ribbons to the student teacher helping in his classroom because she helped him with his seat work.  She in turn gave her second ribbon to her best friend.

Huh took awhile to decide who she would honor.  She decided on her friend, “B”, because she always brings Huh cookies whenever she is having a bad day and she has helped Huh clean her disaster of a room twice.  Huh’s words, “She knows how to be a good friend.”  “B” gave her second ribbon to her mom.

I gave my ribbons away on the day of the deadline.  I chose to give them to “I”, a neighbor who came here from France and has worked long and hard to gain citizenship to our country.  She finally made it last month! 

Hub and Squid didn’t make the deadline, so we extended it for another week.  Squid finally gave his ribbons to his girlfriend who has been a GREAT influence on him.  We really like her.  Hub gave his ribbons to “R”, a teenager with Down Syndrome in our neighborhood who has overcome many obstacles and will be graduating from high school next week.

My purpose in giving the assignment was to get my family members (and myself) thinking about, and then recognizing, those who have made a difference in our lives by actual acts or by simply setting a good example.  It was interesting to see who each family member picked to honor.  I was pleasantly surprised by some of the choices.  So many times others don’t realize that they have made a difference.  Sometimes it is good to express gratitude for what others have done.

As far as the challenge…mission accomplished.