Christmases Past

Of all of the shopping we have done for the holidays, the best was this afternoon when we were given the opportunity to go shopping for a 14-year-old boy. We don’t know him, don’t even know his name, but we didn’t need to. You see, Sam’s Orchestra class “adopted” a family for what we call The Gift of Green, a single mama with 5 kids. Each child had one assignment-shoes for a 7-year-old, for example, or in our case pants for a 14-year-old. Additionally, the teacher is using funds that the kids have raised to buy bikes for the older boys this year. You know how it works.

So Sam and I went to Penney’s with the thought of getting a couple of pairs of pants. We may or may not have gone overboard because we ended up with two pair of jeans and some chinos and a sweater and a shirt and some sleep pants. Because one new pair of jeans is awesome but a couple of new outfits is like, wow, you know?

I don’t say any of this to be all “Look how great we are,” but instead to talk about gratitude and humility. Remember not so many years ago when the entire blogging community got together to give my family Christmas? And not just presents from strangers (who eventually became friends), but money to pay my bills and buy groceries. I had nothing that year, struggling so hard to even survive, and out of nowhere came this huge, unexpected largess.

We have never forgotten. Owen was too small to remember being poor, and Josie wasn’t even a thought yet. This was before commitment and marriage, before so many things, and I have a heart full of gratitude. We have never forgotten the feeling of terror and shame involved with poverty, have never forgotten the way it tastes in the mouth and feels in the heart. I don’t ever want to forget, and neither does Sam. We talked about it a lot while shopping, and during the wrapping some tears were shed. For this family we don’t know, because we have been there. For the absolutely blessed life we have now, and for everything in between.

There is never enough money to repay all of the gifts that have been given to me in my life, in the lives of my children-and what many of you may not know is that the material stuff, well, it was all well and good but what we carried away from all of that is a restored faith in the inherent goodness of people. We can’t ever repay the feelings of love and hope-but we can give back. Sometimes with tangible gifts, but more often with simple kindnesses and more love and compassion.

So all of a sudden it felt like Christmas this afternoon. We haven’t been feeling it simply because there has been so much going on and Steve has been gone working since before Thanksgiving and life has been so busy. But with that brief shopping trip came the spirit of the holiday, and we can truly begin to celebrate.

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