Saturday, December 15, 2007

it's coming on christmas

Winters are hard when you have no place to live. It's colder and harder to sleep outside, you need to carry more belongings so you have more warmth available at night. And when you are sick it makes it so much worse. I've been noticing a lot of really sick people staggering in and lying down immediately. The fall asleep amidst the noise and the hustle, mouths open, arms clenched around a bag or two, so still in the middle of so much movement you stop and watch for a minute just to make sure they are actually still breathing.

But the Holidays bring out the community. Folks drop by with donations of blankets and old clothes, meals and good cheer. It's always an awkward balance, folks who come to visit are not always sure where to look because suffering is all around them when they walk in the door. They try not to notice the woman in the corner who is rocking and singing or the muttering guy huddled over his mashed potatoes. But someone is always there to welcome them and lend a hand to lift the parcels from their arms and hopefully thank them for their time.

A couple showed up the night before we knew the little girl's family had a place to go. They walked in laden with duffel bags filled with clothes and toys and towels and sheets. All new that they must have purchased that very same day. We brought you all of this they said to the mom so earnestly and kindly, if you don't mind we'd like to give it to you. The mom looks at me and pauses, she doesn't know what to say because it's so kind and yet she can't accept it, she's on foot with three kids and they can't carry another thing. Wow, I say that is so fantastic that you would do this. The problem is they can't carry it with them and have nowhere to go. But we are working on that so if you all agree I can hold onto it for them until it's sorted out.

The couple realizes their mistake in that instant, the thought of transporting the new stuff probably hadn't crossed their minds. Of course, the woman says, how silly of us. You need a home first. Yes, says the mother, but thank you so much.

No worries, I say and hand them my card. I promise I'll get it to them once they are settled. And we did just that, delivering these lovely new items along with the family when we dropped them off in their new temporary home. Items that will no doubt come in handy as the mom settles in and creates their new space.

As much as I fight it the holiday cheer seeps in, the goodness of strangers who make a point of reaching beyond themselves to help someone else, a feeling I want to bottle and then dole out all year long.

30 comments:

flutter said...

Oh jen. You are so good.

Kyla said...

Flutter is right, dear friend. You are a good, good soul.

Beck said...

I'm so glad that you're out there helping people.

Laurie said...

I finally had time to catch up on your blog. As always the life that you lead and the difference you make to others humbles and inspires me. You are truly amazing.

Hugs,
Laurie

Hetha said...

This is something that I would not have considered, the idea that gifts cannot be easily accepted when one has no home to place them in. I'm so glad you blog because by doing so you educate so many of us. I think your impact is far reaching in the shelters as well as in online communities.

Arwen said...

November and December are probably the best for donations but which month is the worse? I figure March (no Holidays) or August because people think it is so warm that everyone is OK (not that it is warm in SF in the summer). I wonder because I wonder which month is the best month to donate if you can't donate every month.

Ally said...

There is so much that we take for granted, even the offer of such nice gift but not realizing that they can't be transported on foot. But the generosity of spirit here... heartwarming.

painted maypole said...

wow. sometimes it seems like it all comes together, doesn't it.

Orangeblossoms said...

I have such mixed feelings about the goodwill that people display around this time of year. I am not opposed to it-- I just wish it would come year round-- not so much out of guilt when we're all over-indulging.

That said, I am so glad that this couple were so generous to a family so in need.... and just in time.

Again, you rock, Jen!

Hel said...

Thinking of that family with their home and new sheets and clothes and toys makes my heart relax a piece of it that clenches at the thought of people without a safe warm space called home.

blooming desertpea said...

It's a comforting feeling to know that there actually ARE good people on this planet especially when we live around selfish people like I do ...

Julie Pippert said...

What a wonderful way to handle it. And I bet just the inspiration they need. I love that the couple brought all new stuff.

Julie
Using My Words

kristen said...

this does my heart good. sometimes i get very depressed around the holidays - the mass consumerism (which i fall prey to as well), and the expectations...

i needed this. xo

Karen said...

I feel just like that woman sometimes, wanting to help, but not knowing which way is up when it comes to actually being helpful. It was great you were able to thank her and make her see the reality in the same breath. It's hard to look at reality.

Blog Antagonist said...

I don't think their kindness and generosity should be diminished by their inability to see the full scope of the situation. I wouldn't have. I would have been so gripped by the need to help that I wouldn't have thought beyond that.

I think they did a good thing. It warms me.

Kellan said...

So many of us really have no idea - do we? I'm glad you were able to help this mom and her kids find a temporary home - especially at the holidays and it was so nice for people to bring things for them. We don't do near enough - but every little bit does help. Hope you are having a good weekend, Jen. See you soon. Kellan

jen said...

BA - I agree. And it wasn't. It was lovely.

mamatulip said...

The old saying, "It's the little things that count" really is true, isn't it?

QT said...

I'm so happy for that little family, jen. One I've never met-only through your eyes do I know they exist. Thanks for sharing their story with us.

crazymumma said...

bigirl came up with an idea for a cleaning bomb. A mixture of cleaning products that you explode in any given room.

I want to see if she can make a kindness bomb, one that will rain an everlasting drizzle of good.

Susanne said...

It would indeed be a good thing to be able to bottle that up and measure it out throughout the year.

On the other hand it comes in handy around the time when it actually is colder and more hostile.

Magpie said...

Yes, to encourage the impulse year round would indeed be good and helpful.

jen said...

well y'all check back tomorrow cause we at Just Post headquarters have a surprise about this very thing....

Ruth Dynamite said...

You break my heart with all this...reality.

But you also warm my heart because your words convey so much goodness.

I am inspired to do good because of you, Jen. Bless that family and the countless others like them.

Christine said...

these two families have touched each other, no doubt.

and it is clear that they have also touched you, friend.

Running on empty

mitzh said...

Sometimes, I can't help but wish that it will be Christmas all year long so people will be MORE in every aspect...

This is such a wonderful post and you are wonderful...

dawn224 said...

Yes. If we could just have it all year....

The Expatriate Chef said...

We could have it all year. It starts with us, after all, and it grows from there. Merry Christmas to you, Jen. All year.

ewe are here said...

People never cease to amaze me... they may not have thought it completely through, but it was a wonderful thought.

I'm glad you were there to help their gift work out.

Daisy said...

So much to think about...every time I work with a child who is homeless or in foster care it just gets to me that there's so little I can do. I just keep teaching them, making sure they have pencils, and hope I can connect them with services they need.