It appears that this week on campus is Big-Little Week. If you’re not a college student, let me clue you in. New members of a sorority (littles) are assigned older members of the sorority (bigs), and the littles have no idea who their bigs are. During Big-Little week, bigs spend hours preparing elaborate gifts for their littles, showering them with lattes delivered to their favorite classes, roses, and other assorted goodies, all under the cover of anonymity.
The bigs are big on love, and so “I love my little” and “Best little ever!” are pasted all over campus, in the form of sticky notes down dorm hallways and even ads in the school paper. The littles post pictures of every gift to Facebook, with captions like “I love my big!” and “Best big everrrrrrrrrrr.” At the end of this week-long gift fest, the bigs reveal themselves to their littles, and hugs ensue, while the rest of us secretly contemplate joining a sorority just for the gifts.
The part that has always confused me about Big-Little Week is that it seems like these girls can hardly know each other. The big-little relationship happens early in the process, so it’s not like these girls have had a ton of time to bond with their potential bigs. Besides, they have no idea who their big is anyway due to the anonymity. But yet bigs go out of their way to do extravagant things for their littles, and their littles respond with glowing compliments and enough love to fill a 1960’s VW van.
As I scanned my news feed on Facebook last night and skipped past pictures of chocolates, roses, snacks, and dorm rooms decorated in streamers with signs saying “Your big loves you!’ I began wondering why such behavior has become just reserved for the sororities. I could write a lot more on a card about any of my friends than a big probably could about a little. I know what gifts my friends would like, and, just like a big, I can use Pinterest. So why don’t I?
I’ve written before about small acts of kindness and cheerfulness and the impact they can have. But I think bigger acts of thoughtfulness have their place, too. Freshman year, one of my loveliest friends showed up at my dorm unannounced during finals week to bring me a gift bag of all of my favorite things, with handwritten notes attached to each. I’m sure it took her some time to assemble it all and write all the notes, and I could see that when I received it. It totally lifted my spirits when I was frustrated during finals, and obviously the memory of it stuck with me.
I know we don’t all have infinite time on our hands to assemble elaborate gift baskets for friends or to sneak into their rooms and decorate them or to hire shirtless frat boys to show up at their apartments and sing to them. But for the people in our lives who truly matter, we could probably spare a few minutes to assemble something out of the ordinary. Even something completely free, like doing your roommate’s share of the chores during a stressful week of classes, could make a big impact.
And as for the love? We could probably show that a little more often, too. If bigs can get newspaper ads for their littles proclaiming their love, the least I can do is send a cute text to a friend telling them how much I appreciate them. I love my best friends like sisters (and brothers) as it is.
My purpose in writing this is not to bash sorority tradition, but to point out that we can maybe learn a thing or two from big-little week. Girls in sororities have just as busy of schedules as the rest of us, and yet they find time for extravagant gift-giving and acts of thoughtfulness. If the sorority girls can do it, why cant we?