Thursday, June 3, 2010

Burger barrel

“Be kind and compassionate to one another…” –Eph. 4:32

Jeanie and I are in Amarillo Texas this week spending time with Reese our granddaughter, Elizabeth and Mark. Reese is 6 weeks old and growing fast. We also have fun hanging out with Mark’s parents, best friends since high school and college. We stay at Mark and Elizabeth’s home in an older but really nice neighborhood.

I love the sense of neighborhood when we visit here. There are sidewalks and streetlights. Is the neighborhood perfect? No, but there is the feel of community. It’s important that we as parents teach our teens about the importance of community. Too many nice neighborhoods today are “drive in and drive out” communities.

Today we had lunch at what is called the “Burger Barrel,” a burger establishment in Amarillo that opened on Route 66 in 1937. It is shaped like a barrel (it was originally an A&W root beer) and has great old-fashioned burgers. You know me, always looking for a good burger! There was line waiting for the orders and everyone was talking and having a good time without the rush felt at most fast-food places. They don’t have a drive through either. Again, more a sense of community, not somewhere “fast,” to get in and get out, but a place to enjoy.

Last night before dark, we loaded up baby Reese in the nicest stroller I’ve ever seen. This stroller has a flat-screen TV, wireless Internet connection and a built in iPhone dock. Okay, just kidding on all of that, but it really is nice. We took a walk around the neighborhood and as we got nearer to the city park around the corner, we heard music. As we walked up on Sam Houston City park (named after the first president of the Texas. Yes, president. Texas was a country you know), we saw nearly a hundred people sitting all around the park in lawn chairs listening to a country band playing “Amarillo by morning” on the park stage. Sponsored by the city of Amarillo, I found out that every Tuesday night is a “family night” at the park with live bands and blow up rides for the kids. People were smiling, throwing Frisbees, talking and having a great time.

A sense of community doesn't come from a building or a park, but it does come from citizens that value each other. Community is an attitude of friendship that is passed down to our children. I’m not knocking the McDonalds and Wal-Mart’s’ but in the “mom and pop” establishments of yesterday, the sense of community came a little easier, without drive in windows and on-line ordering.

We don't need to live in the past, but teach your kids to value the neighbors. Teach your kids to be friendly and kind. Teach your kids to befriend people who are different from them. Of course, to teach that attitude, you need to have that attitude. Speak kindly about the neighbors around the dinner table. Take the kids to check on the widower down the street. Go for walks in the neighborhood and don't look down when a neighbor looks at you.

This week, load up the kids and the dog and go to the Burger barrel in your town. Every town has one like it. Sure, the burgers aren't healthy, but the time being a part of the community will add years to your life.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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