Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Humility of Giving

We went Christmas shopping today.

We came home with the van full, front to back. Bags and boxes of stuff.

It wasn't our usual Christmas shopping, though. The bags were full of new towels and sheets and socks for men and women. The boxes were full of food--cereal, coffee, cornbread, mix, beans and canned fruit and pasta sauce and all kinds of stuff.

This year we decided to do something different. Instead of the usual family gift-giving, we wanted to buy for the victims of last summer's floods. I thought we might buy blankets and heaters but after being put in touch with one of the worst affected, and least aided, communities, I learned that those needs have largely been met. What they needed were sheets, towels, and food. A really big need for food, especially now with the holidays looming and the food pantry hard put to meet the demand.

Some friends and family chipped in with more funds so we had plenty to go shopping with. It is an odd thing to shop like this. I mean, what to buy? Non-perishables, for sure. As we walked down the aisles we talked about the times when we were "skint", as the saying goes--times when money was short for us and we had to make do the best we could. We realized that while we've been tight financially several times in our lives, we have always been able to manage without outside help.

We've been fortunate, I know. And lucky because sometimes it was sheer dumb luck to kept us out of the pit. We've never had to worry about food. We had the wherewithal to grow much of what we ate, even in the worst of times. Our cellar is and has always been pretty full, the freezer the same. We can eat for weeks and months without buying much if we had to.

When we got home from our shopping trip, we opened the fridge and got out leftovers for our lunch. It was an embarrassment of good food--cheesy cauliflower-potato soup, spaghetti, fruit salad, applesauce, green beans.

Life has not always been easy, but it has always provided enough. Our sons all grew up to be good men, men who wholeheartedly supported our Christmas plan this year. We have a home, we have ways to make money if we need it, we have hobbies and activities that enrich our lives. We have good friends and good family. We have enough of everything we need.

It makes a person feel humble, almost guilty, realizing that a few twists of the road could have landed us in an entirely different situation. Indeed, there could still be twists ahead for us. But I know that we will be okay. And I know that there are so many for whom that is never a certainty.

Tomorrow we will drive some twisty roads to deliver this load. I wonder if those who receive it will realize what a gift they've given us? The gift of appreciating what we have. There's no price tag for that, and no giftwrap needed.

It's going to be one of the best Christmases ever.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Mac n' Janet said...

A wonderful Christmas gift, so thoughtful of you.

Jenny said...

I pray your generosity will be multiplied through the people who receive it!

Having volunteered in a food pantry here for 10 yrs, I know that choosing what to give is very hard. I understand the dilemma. Many people who are forced to use a pantry really don't know how to cook. I served people who didn't know what to do with flour, raw potatoes or fresh garden squash. It's one of the reasons they struggle so to get on their feet, because they don't know how to cook, they waste a lot of the food budget they do have. But still we give, trying to give advice & cooking suggestions when we can & they're willing to receive it.

I've also been on the receiving end of food pantries as a child I do understand just how grateful you are for anything at all edible.

May there always be generous people willing to give & may those in need find the courage they need to get back up & keep going.

Granny Sue said...

Jenny, that is the dilemma exactly. They wanted non-perishables. I generally shop the outside aisles of the store--fresh produce, meats, dairy, bakery--not so much the inside aisles where there is more processed foods. Then I was trying to find things that were easy to prepare, that possibly a child could open and fix, or that required few additional ingredients.And things for breakfast, lunch, dinner. And then some just plain fun stuff like hot chocolate, cookies. I don't know how well we did, but it was certainly an interesting experience. Bless you for volunteering all those years!

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