Memories and Musings: Little things matter

Published 5:43 am Thursday, November 7, 2019

By Gene Gallelli

Our lives are filled with celebrations; as well they should be. Most of them are overflowing with the elaborate artifacts associated with holidays, sporting events and religious or family traditions.

Graduations, for example, are an honored rite of passage that can start as early as “graduating” from kindergarten to being “hooded” on stage when receiving a PHD in one of many areas of study.

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Birthdays — we all have them — can be as simple and personal as a candlelight dinner for two or as elaborate as a six-year-old’s birthday bash in a backyard with dozens of screaming children and, perhaps, even a clown; although, thanks to Stephen King, clowns aren’t as popular as they used to be.

Religious celebrations, each with its own unique blend of traditions, histories, and artifacts range from solemn and highly personal to elaborate and open to the public.

In my opinion, it’s safe to say that one, some, or all of the aforementioned celebratory events have been and will continue to be a part of all of our lives; in fact, they help identify and define the world’s myriad cultures and societies.

But, have we become so used to celebrating on a large scale that we have forgotten the little things in our everyday lives that also matter?

When I was a teenager we lived with my grandparents; my mom’s mother and father. The Italian traditions and customs were tacit and displayed daily. I remember my grandfather admonishing me for not sharing what I was snacking on with my friends (mia casa e casa tua — my house is your house — is a cherished tradition in Italian households and it continues to affect my everyday behavior).

Recently, when leaving the post office carrying a large bundle of mail, a young man ran ahead of me and held the door open for me to pass. When I said, “Thank you!” he replied, “You’re welcome, sir!” I shared that experience many times thereafter because it was refreshing and such a nice, much appreciated courtesy.

Smiling at and verbally greeting people are things I’m in the habit of doing that I learned from my dad, who knew no strangers. It’s a little thing that makes me, and hopefully the recipients, feel good, even when I occasionally get a grunt or worse for my efforts.

Finally, saying, “I love you!” really can’t be considered a little thing because it so often brings out the sun and can make someone’s day; I know hearing it always enhances mine.

Although I hesitate to give advice — something I learned quickly based on a few of the responses I received — I might “suggest” that while we continue to enjoy the big celebrations, that we spend more time doing many little things in big ways.

After all, little things really matter! Experienced citizens — a euphemism — will remember “Little Things Mean a Lot” as a 50s hit by singer Kitty Kallen. I hope everyone else will think of it as good “advice” . . . that I’m just suggesting.

Gene Gallelli was Associate Superintendent of the Dare County Schools for eight years. He received his Doctor of Education degree from East Carolina University, where he taught and supervised students studying to become school administrators.