Raising two kids on my own was really hard sometimes. Not the kids themselves. I’ve always been blessed to have them in my life; they are what kept me going, kept me sane, kept me learning and growing, kept me connected and loving.
The Christmas season of 1999 found me working full-time, but without resources. My job meant that I was away from my kids for 12 hours each day. Eight hours working, an hour lunch – and three hours spent traveling back and forth between home, babysitter, work; then work, babysitter, home. I used my crockpot a lot back then, simply to insure that my kids had a decent meal instead of a quick box of macaroni for dinner. To give me time to spend with them in the few hours we had each evening. We were, simply, living paycheck to paycheck and there was seldom anything extra.
As Christmas approached, I worked on making each of the kids a gift and managed to set aside a total of $30 to spend on presents. The pictures above are of the wooden checkerboard that I made for my son - all of the small dots, the birds, even the campfire, were painted using toothpicks, lol!
My daughter had always loved snow globes. She called them “Happys”. And, two days before Christmas, a nearby store had a beautiful Happy on sale. Off to the store I went and felt so thrilled that they still had a few left! I made my purchase and, as I walked out the door, the bag was knocked out of my hand. That beautiful Happy fell to the pavement and broke into a dozen pieces!
I was as shattered as that precious snow globe! I walked a few steps through the throng of last minute shoppers, braced myself against a wall, and burst into tears. I was so devastated!
And then a man and woman approached me and asked if I was okay. I sobbed and told them, between gulps of air, what had happened. This wonderful woman stayed, talking to me, reassuring me, giving me the gift of her comfort and care. The man left, but I didn’t really notice.
And then the man was back. He held a bag out to me and insisted that I look inside. They had replaced that beautiful Happy and gifted it to me. And then they simply wished me a Merry Christmas and walked away.
The enormity of what they did was so much more than the cost of the Happy. That they took the time to stop; that they cared enough to give of themselves and make a difference for a woman and a child that they didn’t know. They blessed me in so many ways that evening! And I have tried, since then, to always pay it forward; to see others through the eyes of love that I felt looking upon me then.
It doesn’t take a lot to lift someone else up. Making a difference doesn’t require a huge investment of time or money. Sometimes the small things are huge things in disguise, a grace that makes life sparkle and shine with love and possibilities.
It’s been twelve years and the gift that those two gave to me has never left me. Remembering, as I’m doing now, can still bring tears to my eyes. I’ve never forgotten; never stopped feeling gratitude. They left a legacy of love and generosity within me. And that legacy expresses itself in my own ability to be thankful, even for the seemingly small blessings in my life, and to give of myself and my resources as and when I can. It may be a few encouraging words, an expression of love or something more tangible - but there is always something to give.
Wishing you many blessings and miracles of your own, no matter how you celebrate the season. And may you find grace and gratitude in each day of this coming year.