Growing up, we didn’t have a ton of money. I mean, we weren’t destitute by any means, but we didn’t have a lot of extras. We were lucky, we have a very generous extended family who believe it takes a village to raise a child. My aunts and uncle made so many things possible for us that we might not have been able to do otherwise.
Even though we didn’t have a lot to give, I still remember my mom giving. Vividly. There was time at the soup kitchen. If there was a friend in need, she was there. There were endless amounts of food baskets put together and delivered. There were stray dogs who were found new homes. There were plates of cookies and a visit with elderly neighbors. There were babysitting swaps with her friends so they could have nights out. There were lists of toys and clothes arranged as ornaments on a tree at church for children who didn’t have anything.
Boy, age 7, wants shoes and a truck for Christmas.
Girl, age 12, wants a coat and earrings for Christmas.
At the time, I don’t think I appreciated the value of exactly what she was giving me. Not at all, in fact. Do you know what it is like to deliver baskets of food and gifts to families living in the projects and watch a mother’s eyes light up as much as the three year old? Because I do.
My sixteen year old self didn’t realize what exactly a parent might feel just being able to have a gift for her child. Or something as simple as a meal to fill their belly.
My thirty-six year old self does.
This morning, I was at the grocery and as I was leaving, a manager was walking outside to tell a man to stop bothering customers for money. I get it. Really, I do. Something inside of me though, it was hurting my soul. This gentleman was probably in his sixties, in a motorized wheelchair, one leg missing, wearing a spring jacket and a sock covering the hand operating the wheelchair because it was so cold. The manager told him to leave and not to ask any more customers for money on his way out. I put Tate in the car and watched him start to leave before sprinting across the lot to give him the few dollars I had in my wallet.
Sunday night, Dave and I were introduced to Family House by my friend Casey when we were looking for a place to donate some board games and dvds. After reading more about them, we made a quick call asking what else they might be able to use and made a trip to Sam’s. Dave and Finnegan dropped off the items after school on Tuesday. A little boy greeted them with a hello and asked if they were new.
That could have been the situation. They might not have been dropping off items. We might have needed a place like Family House. Or you might have. Or your mother or your brother or your best friend.
It takes a minute, a second really, to smile and offer someone a kind word. It takes a few dollars to pay for someone’s coffee. It takes a half an hour to visit with an elderly person. What would it take for you to clean out all of the hats and gloves you have in your closet and donate them to a homeless shelter? Could you use your lunch hour to volunteer at your child’s school? Could you buy that truck and pair of shoes for boy, age 7? Could you donate $14.60 to feed a meal to ten people?
Please, give. Let your children see you give, let them participate. You’re giving them a gift too.
And Mom? Thank you.