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    Blue Plate Special

    By Glenn A. Hascall     

    There is a tradition that started in our home that can cause a minor riot if left unchecked. I didn't intend for it to take on such importance to my progeny, but it has. It is in that knowledge that I alternately wail and gnash teeth or express gratitude for the gift of encouragement.

    You see, in times past I participated in an annual camping expedition into two of Wyoming's most beautiful mountain ranges (Medicine Bow and Big Horn). During those years I purchased a blue enamel tin plate. I packed it away in my camp fire smoked rucksack where it would gather dust for twelve months before I headed back out on the trail.

    One year I was told I could retire the plate - camp plates had been purchased for the entire group, so no one had to lug their own eating utensils into the wild.

    My children loved to rummage through the smoky bags upon my return looking for evidence of the grand adventures I always told them about. That's when they discovered the 'blue plate'. They both wanted it. After all, if I wasn't going to use it anymore then it was fair game - right?

    Being a dad of very little tolerance for sibling rivalry and not wanting to be the cause for the declaration of the world's final war I told them, "neither of you get the plate."

    After a relatively lengthy bit of posturing and telling me why there were so many reasons to reopen the case and allow sole possession I came up with a plan.

    Having seen the best and worst of small town diners, I was familiar with the term 'blue plate special' - that's when an idea struck me with the full force and effect of brilliance.

    The plate makes an appearance from time to time during mealtimes in our home. Sometimes my daughter gets it, sometimes my son and sometimes, my wife. It rarely makes even a weekly appearance, but when there comes a time when one of my family members needs a boost of encouragement or if I want to let them know that I am very proud of them - I bring out the 'blue plate'.

    There may still be sibling grumblings when the plate is passed on to someone else, but the child receiving the plate understands they are 'blue plate special' and their Daddy took the time to notice.

    This might not be a perfect solution for you and your family, but I hope it spurs a few creative ideas that you can implement as a means of encouraging those you love most.

    Written by Glenn A. HascallRate this article:

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