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The GoodLetter    Thursday, June 13, 2002
GoodThings, Inc. :: Stories, actions, ideas, and greeting cards that connect us.


In this week's issue:
:: Favorite GoodThings GoodThings
From Mikael Dellgren of Bromma, Sweden
:: This Week's Feature GoodThings
Fatherly Forgiveness - by Paul Currington
:: Card of the Week GoodThings
Many Voices -- GoodThings Greeting Cards on sale now!
:: 2001 Spotlight GoodThings
Favorite Visionary: Studs Terkel, author of Will The Circle Be Unbroken?
:: Good Gravy GoodThings
Book: Mary Rose O'Reilley's The Barn at the End of the World
Music: The Clarks' Another Happy Ending
Film: Va Savoir
:: The Upshot GoodThings
Claudia O'Keefe's Father: Famous Writers Celebrate the Bond Between Father and Child
:: Housekeeping GoodThings

A few favorite goodthings from Mikael Dellgren of Bromma, Sweden:

"My lovely young daughter of 10; she is also my best buddy. We grow plants on our balcony and go swimming. A good book. The Matteuspassion by Bach. Fado music from Portugal. Strawberries with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, with coffee on the side!"

What are YOUR favorite goodthings? Read more

Greeting Card of the Week

Many Voices: Building A Memory...

Does Father's Day help you recall positive memories from your childhood? Or blissful summer days with your favorite childhood friend? Tell someone they're one of your most important memories with this brand-new GoodThings greeting card now for sale on our Web site! We need your help! By buying just one pack of 8 greeting cards for only $12.50 or a few single cards for $2.50 each (plus shipping/handling), you're making it possible for GoodThings to continue celebrating and promoting positive and constructive organizations, ideas, and people. Don't forget: you can also choose from all our cards to create your own variety packs!
(We print all our cards on recycled paper using soy ink.)

Click on the sample cards below and at the right to get yours today!

Outside card text:
The greatest and most lasting thing is building a memory with another person.

Inside: Thinking of you

(friendship, general)


This Week's Feature

Fatherly Forgiveness

Laughing at Dad or making kind-hearted fun of him is easy. But, says one humor writer, forgiving him is a whole different story.

Dear GoodLetter readers,

I don't think I ever teased my mother. It wasn't because she didn't have annoying habits or quirks. She did, of course. She just lacked the one thing that made my father the object of years of ridicule and teasing. You see, my dad was a complete goober.

My mother was professionally funny. She made audiences laugh wherever she went. And if you were going on a road trip, Mom was the one you wanted in the seat next to you. Whatever happened, Mom had something to say about it.

Dad never tried to be funny. He made you laugh because he tried so hard not to.

Anytime the family talks about Dad we always start with the snoring. He had a tremendous snore. It was his trademark, like Carol Burnett's Tarzan yell or the MGM lion's roar. I used to bring girlfriends over to the house just so they could hear it.

When Dad fell asleep in the La-Z-Boy, you could hear him snoring in the driveway. My father didn't "saw wood," he clear-cut. I always felt sorry for his wife, Betty. It must have been like sleeping next to a riveting gun. At his funeral, I told Betty that somewhere in heaven there was an angel yelling at Dad, "Roll over!" I'm sure Betty is the only person in the world who actually looked forward to hearing loss.

Once, on a road trip, when I was driving and Dad was sleeping, we got pulled over for driving without a muffler. Family members still tell the story of how Dad used to live next to a cemetery but was asked to leave because he kept waking up the neighbors.

Dad also had sleep apnea, which meant that he would stop breathing in the middle of a snore. And like the man who doesn't wake up until you turn off the TV, everyone in the house would stop what they were doing and wait until Dad started breathing again. Every night after the news, Dad would fall asleep, and we would suffer through these snore eclipses. Betty would stop washing dishes, I would glance over from a book I was reading. Everything would stop until Dad let out a snort, and we could go back to our business. It wasn't until this year that I realized my brother and I have inherited our father's snore. If the Currington family has a crest, it's probably a big nose with a deviated septum.

When he wasn't snoring, Dad was exhibiting his gooberness in other ways. He used to save broken things and then give them to me later as spontaneous gifts.

We'd often sit in the living room watching the Discovery Channel. (We had completely different tastes in television. He liked Major League baseball, and I liked MTV. As we got older, we each wanted to please the other, so he would purposely skip past the baseball game and I would purposely skip past the music videos, and we would end up spending two hours watching rhinos mate. To this day, I cannot watch two animals having sex without thinking nostalgically of my father.) Suddenly, he would turn to me and say, "Hey, could you use a cordless phone?"

"Sure. Uh, what's wrong with it?"

"Nothing. Works great!"

"No, really, what's wrong with it."

"Well the ringer's broken. But aside from that, it works perfect."

"So every time I walk by the phone, I'm supposed to pick it up to see if someone happens to be calling at that exact moment?"

Another time, he gave me a camera with a shutter that wouldn't open. Along with the camera was a lifetime supply of flashbulbs. I guess he figured if I was patient I could use it as a flashlight. I saved that camera for years thinking one day I would run into an autistic photographer and pass it on.

It's funny, but one of the things I miss most about my dad is those stupid broken presents. While he was alive, they represented something very painful. Every time he gave me something he had received for buying a Ronco food dehydrator or a lifetime subscription to Reader's Digest, it was a reminder of how much I was worth to him. It felt like he was giving me his junk mail. (One time, he wrapped up all the travel brochures he had collected during his trip to Ireland and gave them to me for Christmas. "Look at all the places I didn't take you this year!")

Now I realize these presents were his way of saying that he was thinking of me. My dad wasn't around much when I was growing up. My parents' marriage was a series of separations ending in divorce. I barely knew my dad when he lived with us, and I spent even less time with him after he left.

When I became an adult, he wanted to make up for all the lost time. Sometimes he gave me money; other times, he would call me up spontaneously on the phone just to say hi. I guess when you don't know what to do, you try a little bit of everything.

It was his persistence that finally won me over. When you see someone trying so hard to make it work, you can't help but start to forgive them. That's when I started looking forward to the worn-out gifts. I began to see them not as junk mail but as small apologies for mistakes of the past.

Now that I'm raising my own son, I wonder where I'm going wrong with him. I wonder what painful memories I'm helping to make every time I raise my voice or put him on restriction. Every time I give him a birthday present he doesn't like or sign him up for a sport he doesn't care for, I have a little more sympathy for my dad.

Perspective is a choice. So is forgiveness. For me, the path to forgiveness always starts with a laugh. You can choose to be slighted or you can choose to be grateful. I know that when my son starts telling stories about his own goober dad, he will have made that choice for himself.

:: Paul Currington
Olympia, Washington

Paul is a comedian and writer whose work has appeared on Comedy Central and When he's not telling jokes, he is home writing children's books. More importantly, he is a single parent of a very funny 11-year-old boy named Taran.

Paul's favorite goodthing? "Finding out someone you have a crush on also has a crush on you. What could be better? 'You like me? No, way. I like you, too!' Then, you have to ask them when they first started liking you, and you have to tell them when you first started liking them. Remember the first time that happened when you were a kid? It sounds corny but it's still the best feeling in the world."

(Thoughts on Paul's GoodLetter? Inspired by what you've read? E-mail us -- don't forget to tell us your name, where you're from, and if we can use your words in a future GoodLetter or on our Web site.)

How has forgiveness made a difference in your relationships? Has it made it easier for you to laugh about things in the distant past? Share your stories and ideas.

:: Read Paul Currington's humor column, Apartment 8, on

Educate yourself about "enlightened" fatherhood and how fathers are taking increasingly important roles in nurturing and raising their children.
:: The Father's Web
:: Slow Lane
:: A Father's Journal

:: Start building new memories! Find out a new way to connect with your father this Father's Day. Explore the "Fatherly Links" at

Oh, yeah, and be sure to call your dad this Sunday...!


Favorite GoodThings 2001 Spotlight

Every other week, we use this space to remind you about the extraordinary work of one of our Favorite GoodThings 2001 campaign honorees. The profiles of our honorees -- a wealth of ideas, actions, and organizations for a better world -- have a special home on our Web site. Check them out and be sure to let us know what you think.

This week, in keeping with this week's GoodLetter about fathers, we're happy to feature our "Favorite Visionary" for 2001, one of America's true father figures:

Studs Terkel, author of Will the Circle Be Unbroken?
You might not consider Studs Terkel a visionary sort since he's built his reputation as an interviewer who, by design, speaks through the words of others. But it's exactly because he so effectively enables us to hear the voices of real people that he is worthy of this Favorite GoodThings honor. Having conducted countless interviews over the course of his career, Terkel has chronicled the passing of the last century through the voices of ordinary people speaking to him, and through him, to us, about the most complex of human issues -- war, work, race, death. History books can't relate the feelings of people enduring the Depression. But Terkel's oral histories have helped us hear authentic voices. His latest work, Will the Circle Be Unbroken? Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger For a Faith explores people's perspectives on death. Sixty very different people share their intimate views on dying, and in the end, readers realize that life and our choices in living are death's constant companion. In Terkel's own words: "These testimonies are...about life and its pricelessness..." Terkel's genius is in his adoration of the human experience, his belief in people's ability to use their own voices to tell their stories, and his trust in people's need to listen.

:: Read a wonderful interview with Studs Terkel at (another of our Favorite GoodThings from 2001).

:: Read an excerpt from Will The Circle Be Unbroken?

:: Buy your copy of Will The Circle Be Unbroken?

We love to hear from you about anything: ideas or situations that are inspiring you or challenging you to think, as well as organizations, programs, and people that contribute to your community and the world everyday. Please drop us a line.

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The Upshot

Can there be a better Upshot just before Father's Day than a little extra fatherly Good Gravy? We're giving our most glowing recommendation to a collection of essays on fatherhood penned by some of the biggest names in contemporary literature, Father: Famous Writers Celebrate the Bond Between Father and Child (edited by Claudia O'Keefe). Seems fatherhood -- at both its best and its most trying -- makes for great storytelling, whether it be in the pages of classic works of literature or in the memory of anyone who's ever been (or had) a father. Writers like the great John Updike, Annie Proulx (author of the Shipping News), Zhu Xiao Di (Thirty Years in a Red House), Calvin Trillin, Jonathan Kellerman, and Dean Koontz lend some of their most engaging narratives to this treasure of a collection.

Claudia O'Keefe has also edited a similar collection of essays for mothers (entitled, appropriately, Mother) and another splendid collection called Forever Sisters.

Buy your copy of Father: Famous Writers Celebrate the Bond Between Father and Child or give it to a reader in your life as a gift.

Finally, for a little added Father's Day fun and games check out Victoria, British Columbia's

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Good Gravy
Music, Books, Films, and Radio
Please click through to our Web site to see what we're reading, watching, and listening to and, while you're at it, let us know what we're missing.

Great Book!
The Barn at the End of the World Mary Rose O'Reilley (2001)

A Minnesota farmer explores mindfulness in solitude -- unless, that is, you count her sheep. Read the review.

Great New Music!
Another Happy Ending The Clarks (2002)

The future's so bright, the Clarks have picked the summertime to release their upbeat new album. Read the review.

Great Film!
Va Savoir (2001)

In this French comedy about the mysterious ways of love, all the world's a stage. Read the review.

GoodThings on Public Radio
Have you been checking out GoodThings on Public Radio? Here are some of our favorite public radio pieces this week (follow the link below to the full summaries on our Web site):

:: Guilty Only in Fairy Tales? -- Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Definitely not a jury of third graders participating in a mock trial at the Federal Courthouse in Washington DC.

:: Giving the Center of Life -- When they learned of the September 11 tragedy, western Kenya's Maasai people offered up their most cherished gift to the US.

:: A Beep to Beat the Heat -- Is anyone protecting small children from being mistakenly left behind in hot cars during the summertime? An extraordinary trio of tech-savvy seventh graders has risen to the challenge.

:: Unearthing Beauty -- An Afghan-American woman returns to Kabul after 23 years away and helps the devastated women and children of her homeland.

:: A Symbiotic Spectacle -- Migrating birds heading north to the Arctic rely on Delaware's Little Creek Wildlife Refuge for a much-need mid-trip snack. But what happens if there are no more horseshoe crabs?

:: Peace on Mindanao? -- In the southern Philippines, where Islamic separatists have clashed with the government for years, one economic development project is, first, fighting poverty which, in turn, is bringing an end to fighting.

:: Golf Swings Public -- Long synonymous with racial segregation and economic exclusivity, golf breaks new -- and public -- ground in this year's US Open.

Visit our site to read full summaries of these stories and listen to your favorites.

Talk to us:
What's the best public radio story you've heard this week?



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© 2002 GoodThings, Inc. All rights reserved, but we love it when you forward the GoodLetter with abandon.