notes from maggie's farm
Tonight, I'm grateful for generosity.
Generosity of others, and the opportunity and ability to exercise generosity, too.
Many years ago, I was a single mother at Christmastime. With little extra to spend any month, December was especially difficult. I was a student, struggling to make a life for my young family. My girls, 7 and 3 this particular year, were too young to understand why the days of extravagant Christmas' were past, and our Charlie Brown-like Christmas tree was less than the prior year's from a winter wonderland. The car broke down after Thanksgiving. Things were rough.
Just as things looked about as bleak as I thought they could get, an angel, someone who knew us, but who's name was never shared, contacted a friend from church, and insisted on paying for our entire Christmas. A beautiful white flocked tree, turkey and trimmings for a complete Christmas dinner, presents for two little girls, stockings and their stuffing, and gifts for Mom, too. They also filled our cupboards, and paid utilities for the month, as well. It was nothing less than a Christmas miracle. Whoever they were, they taught me about generosity. Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus. And he or she attended our church.
Another year, my brother bought bicycles for my girls and insisted they be from Santa, rather than taking the credit, himself. He also drove from Tyler, Texas to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, picked up his sister, who's daughters were to spend their first Christmas at their father's, without her, that year, drove her back to Tyler to spend Christmas with himself and his wife's family. I still remember the cannelloni on Christmas Eve and the all-day-in-pajamas-Christmas Day. They made me a stocking with my name on it and bought me presents, too! They taught me about generosity. The day after Christmas, he drove me back to Baton Rouge, and then returned to Tyler, all so I wouldn't have to spend Christmas by myself.
|courtesy of Janet Harmon Braz|
Incredibly, these were not the only acts of generosity that saw us through the 'salad years'. Grandparents provided the special 'big gifts' for which two little girls hoped. Friends helped with pretty little dresses for choir concerts. Neighbors kept our home and appliances patched together, babysat when Mom worked overtime. Sunday school members found excuses to have us over for dinner. Repair shops gave unexpected discounts. Always when it seemed like we weren't going to make it, the generosity of others saw us through.
So this year, it is with redemptive joy that I might give a little of what has been given me through the years, to someone like the me of all those years ago. A struggling family, a single parent household, whatever the circumstances, there is something especially poignant about how the cycle completes itself.
My church, always generous with time, treasure, and talent, provided the opportunity to participate in the Angel Tree program. Church members had the pleasure of providing gifts for children who's names were printed on 'angel' ornaments. I wonder how many of us took a name, knowing that our names had once been on ornaments much like these.
|courtesy of Janet Harmon Braz|
My friends, Janet and Tom, host a huge gift wrapping party every year in support of The Comfort House, an outreach that serves children of all ages, and their families, in East Austin. Janet and Mimi, special generous friends, arrange for massive donations of presents, and we gather to donate our time and treasures this day, too. Being a person who's been on both ends of such generosity, let me say its as much a joy to give than to receive.
Seems like this year, more so than many, there are a myriad of opportunities to give, and happily, people asking where, who and how they can help. Perhaps with the economic difficulties so many of us face, it has helped us to realize what need is out there. Maybe we're a little closer to the situation. Maybe we know now, more than ever, that with our little bit, a lot of difference can be made.
We are not wealthy people. We live frugally, as do many around us. Thanks to hard work and long hours, (and giving up television, which never really served us in any way) we were blessed to be in a position to give back a little, in small ways, and with great joy, this year.
No, we aren't wealthy. But we are members of a generous church home, we have friends who give of themselves freely, and family to fill our homes and hearts. We have all we need, much of what we want, and a little extra to give. We truly are rich beyond words.