Saturday, September 3, 2011

Minnesota Nice

To the couple who gave my son a tiger "pillow chum" (a stuffed animal that can also double as a pillow) at the Midway on opening day -- thank you! My son LOVES his tiger, and I love the fact that it comes complete with a story about friendly strangers at that "Great Minnesota Get-Together," the Minnesota State Fair.

The story: while Jack, age four, is still a bit young and short to go on the Midway rides or play the games, he's not too young to enjoy watching the show. It was early evening, the Midway looked inviting, and we were checking out the height signs. I noticed a couple standing about ten feet away, gesturing at our small group; a minute later the man came up to me, asked if he could offer Jack a stuffed animal, then, when I said yes, offered Jack a "Toni the Tiger" pillow/animal. Jack, being (just) four and sometimes still being prone to shy fits, accepted the animal and then promptly hid his face in his stroller. We thanked the man, but I hope he realizes that yes, my son really does love his pillow, and it will be a much-loved reminder of the Fair. He told us that they do this every year; they like to play games (and are apparently really good at it, given their armful of animals!) and enjoy giving away their winnings to children they see at the Fair.

Both Jack and I happen to love his tiger pillow for its own sake -- it's cuddly, cute, AND functional (important, as we're moving to a small NYC apartment) -- but even if we didn't, I'd still love the fact that this is yet another reminder that there are some very nice, good people out there. And while I don't tend to go into the sweet saccharine or cliched sentimental posts, these random acts of kindness really do lend some credence to the idea that yes, this REALLY is the "Great Minnesota Get-Together," a place where Minnesotans (and visitors) of all ages and backgrounds get together for a shared experience. It's that spirit of community, of tradition and innovation, and the opportunity to interact with and learn about get the worlds of so many different people from all over the state, that keeps me coming back.

So once again, for both the pillow and the warm, fuzzy memories, thank you to to the wonderful couple who made my son and I so happy. Your tradition of sharing your winnings has undoubtedly made equally warm memories for many families like ours. Enjoy these last few days of the Fair, and perhaps our paths will cross again in 2012!

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