Sunday funday

It started out like any normal Sunday and ended with me playing ninja. How my daughter, the weather, and a love for this city inspired a random act of kindness and a day of giving back.

For as long as my children and I have lived in Richmond, Sunday has been our day.

When I first started my job, I listed myself as not available on Sunday–a big sacrifice for a single mother, considering that the company I worked for paid an extra fifty cents per hour on Sundays.

“I’m sorry, I need a day with my kids. One we can count on.”

After all, I’d just uprooted them, hauled them across the country and plopped them down in the middle of a place where they knew not a soul. Everyone was feeling a little bit wobbly, and we needed stability in any form.

As the kids grew from pre-teens to teens, Sundays became even more important. Some weeks, it was the only time I was guaranteed to see them. Even weeks when we weren’t exactly feeling it, we still did Sundays, all in wordless agreement that it was valuable.

Now that one is a senior in high school and the other a sophomore in college, and they both have jobs and lives of their own, Sunday is a little more dicey. Sometimes we can, sometimes we can’t.

Now, you should know that every Sunday is the same: brunch1 at the same restaurant; walking around the same giant department store, sometimes looking for nothing at all; then food shopping at “our” grocery store. Every week. We don’t make plans, we just say, “Hey, are we doing Sunday, this week?”

This week, we did Sunday. Sort of.

As my son went off to work, sad to miss Sunday, my daughter and I headed off for our activities. On our way to brunch at the same restaurant, we were held up at a red light. I fussed with the radio while waiting, and heard a little whimper from her way. I glanced over and saw her looking at an older man who was sitting on the street corner, holding a sign.

“It’s over 100 degrees out. That’s sad.”

Impulsively, I suggested we push back Sunday, just a bit, and go buy the man some cold water. She perked up.

“Yeah! And look, there’s someone else, over there! Let’s bring them some, too!”

Indeed, there was. In fact, all four corners of this particular intersection were occupied by people in the same situation.

We made our way to our grocery store but, instead of the usual Sunday food roundup, bought the few inexpensive cold bottles of water of they had left. We then circled back to that same intersection. After the deliveries were made, she was more enthusiastic than 17-year-old girls like to appear to be.

“We’re like hydration ninjas! Let’s go find more people!”

Within one week, Richmond endured three very damaging storms and several days in a row of temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. This town has every right to be cross.

But it’s not, quite the opposite in fact. I’ve seen more genuine concern for each other in the past week than I have at any time since last year’s Hurricane Irene. Instead of the generic “How are you?” when out and about, people are asking, in earnest, if there is anything the other needs. Shouts are going out on Facebook and Twitter, offering a place to keep cool, shower, plug in, or stay. People are coming together, and I love it.

The longer I live in Richmond, the more I’m absolutely charmed by it. I’ve lived a lot of places, and spent my time in those places just waiting to go home to San Diego. But not here. This is my home now, and I couldn’t be happier. This city has embraced my family and I, welcoming us with open arms and hearts. Its residents read my silly musings and come to see me tell mildly amusing jokes, allowing me to support my family in a way that wasn’t possible in Southern California. Richmond has gone out of its way to make us feel welcome from the moment we hit town. Trust me when I say you don’t find that just anywhere. At this point, I think that if I moved somewhere else, I’d spend my time waiting to go home to Richmond.

So, my daughter and I did find more people. In fact, we spent a couple of hours handing out a whole lot of water. We had to drive somewhat crazily (luckily I’m an expert) to reach a few folks and stop at two more stores to replenish our supplies, but we gave out as much as we could before she had to get to work, and I had to sit down to write this column. As we drove home, we discussed other things we could do with our Sundays to help people. We agreed that we’d like to give back to Richmond, the way Richmond has given to us.

We’ll have to OK it with my son, but it looks like “Sunday” might take on a whole new meaning. That meaning, of course, will still include brunch. Thanks, Richmond, for being a great home town.

— ∮∮∮ —


  1. Sounds fancy, but it’s not. It just so happens that we can’t get ourselves out of bed early enough for breakfast but are too hungry to wait until lunch. 
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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

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