I hosted an evening of girlish fun the other night which included food too rich and tasty for our own good and the witty charm of a certain Ms. Poste and her farm of cold comforts. Three of us were able to survive till the late hours, and during our conversation Lady M mentioned something about the little things she and her husband do for each other and how their little acts don’t always garner the response they expect. Her comment reminded me of a lesson given to my sorority years ago from a visiting mother.

She started by introducing us to peas and watermelons. She said our acts of service are like peas and watermelons. Some things we do to serve others seem like very small, simple things for us. They are not necessarily hard for us to do, we don’t mind the time it takes to do them, and sometimes we don’t even think about them as we do them nor how they might affect anyone else. These are the peas. Other acts of service are the big things that take more of our energy, time, or courage. It might be something we like or not. We worry about how these acts will affect those around us and want everything to be just right. These are the watermelons. This  sister told us of an experiment she and her husband did one day. They each wrote down the acts of service they noticed their spouse doing for them throughout the day, then labeled the service as a pea or a watermelon depending on how they thought each act was viewed by the one performing the service. At the end of the day, she and her husband got together with their lists and shared what acts of service they had noticed and how they had labeled each one. She said they were both shocked to find that neither of them got a single label right. Her husband listed one of her watermelons of service as always making sure he had clean clothes in his drawer. She burst out in disbelief with, “Laundry? A watermelon? That’s a pea for me. It’s just what needs to be done. It’s that big for you?” Apparently so—he traveled often for work, sometimes on short notice, and he was always grateful that he had clean clothes to pack. She then shocked her husband by telling him that a watermelon act he does for her is taking out the garbage because she hates it. (I can relate!) It was his turn to laugh as he thought of what a small pea of a job that was. She and her husband noticed that acts of service, however big or small they are to you, do not always appear the same to others, and we have no idea how big one small act of service will be for another.

As a former employee in the food business, I understand why eye contact from your customers is a H-U-G-E watermelon. (A smile makes it a bonus.) No kidding! Eye contact tells me you recognize me as a legitimate human being and acknowledge me as an equal who wants to be sure you’re happy while dining at this establishment. It’s also nice to have someone to look at while reciting the obligatory server phrases. There are the occasional grouches, naturally, both on the customer and server end, but what a big difference that one simple act makes in one’s attitude. And honestly, how small of a pea is eye contact? But really, don’t you like it?

One huge watermelon I received recently is an invitation from one of our young men to his high school graduation. It might have been a pea of a thing to him, and for all I know his mom suggested it, but what a great thing! And what a joy to see him and another of our fine young men walk across that stage! And how fun to see him pleasantly surprised afterwards when he saw that we had come to support him. As this was the graduation of my student-teaching school, I saw some of my fine students walk across the stage, too. I stopped one afterwards to congratulate him, and his habitual bright grin and a shock of recognition appeared as I asked him if he remembered me. “Yeah, I’m surprised you remember my name!” Apparently that was a big, surprising thing. It was definitely a big thing that he remembered me! We had four of our ward’s young men graduating this year, and as I gave them each a seemingly pea of a gift (the world was too expensive four times over), I wondered how it would be received, and I was pleased when each fine man received it graciously and with honest gratitude. One even gave me a hug! There’s something big about seeing the youth you’ve served and known since Primary go off to discover the world.

At school, I was amazed at how my students responded to simple encouragement. Here I am trying to come up with a song and dance every day, and they’re happy with my simple acknowledgment of, “Good job! You’re doing great. Need help?”

I guess it’s like Nephi said, “by small means the Lord can bring about great things.”

So, what fun watermelons and peas have you distributed or harvested?