What if we looked at every other human being and saw there, ourselves? I have known privilege and I have known need. Everyone has stories
I cannot pass a red kettle and bell; warm memories wash me with such gratitude. In my transient, troubled youth I was fed, counseled and comforted by stalwart members of that army. When I was twenty and just weeks away from the birth of my son, I remember looking out the window to see a Salvation Army worker, who had become a good friend, walking up the block with a beautiful basket that was to be my baby’s first bed.
When I had two children, my (now ex) husband drank away our house before admitting to his alcoholism and signing himself into a detox center for the first time. A dear friend moved out of his home that Thanksgiving, staying with his grandmother, so the kids and I had a place to stay…and that same beautiful S.A. worker made sure my son and daughter had a Christmas.
My children are grown now and know the stories. They don’t walk past the kettles without stopping either. My daughter and I have a yearly tradition of carefully folding some money, exchanging our bills as a symbolic gift for one another with shining eyes, and then each slipping our cash into that red kettle.
For those who worry about giving spare change to panhandlers, allow me to share a suggestion given by a homeless man who told me his story. Make a peanut butter and jam (on whole wheat) sandwich to carry with you. A hungry person will be grateful and you won’t fear possibly contributing to an addiction.
What a fitting week to share some of our personal stories. I think Stephanie, VW and I hope that by sharing ours with you, there will be a little less judgment, a little more compassion. Everyone has a story. If we are fortunate enough to have our needs of food, clothing and shelter met, let us give thanks…give thanks for our physical and mental health, give thanks for our ability to work and job opportunity, give thanks for the kindness of others and for our change of fortune.
Sing us out Joan….