My department at work volunteered yesterday at the Johnson County Christmas Bureau. The JCCB is a very cool place where low-income folks can go to get food, clothing and gifts for the holiday season. It's surprisingly well-stocked (although they could use more coats) and very well-attended.
My job was to walk around with a shopper to inform them about each department and how many items they could have from each. This was based on family size.
My first shopper was pretty uneventful. She went through each section and made her choices, taking about 45 minutes, then thanked me at the end.
My second shopper was a nice, middle-aged, heavy-set lady in a wheelchair. As we started shopping, she informed me that it was so great that they had allowed her to shop for her adult children, since this was her last Christmas. When I looked confused about what she meant, her face (and tear-filled eyes) said it all. Her LAST Christmas. As in, she will NOT BE AROUND next year.
I quickly recovered and told her, "Well then we are going to make this a great shopping trip for you!". We took our time perusing can labels and boxes of food. She told me that she was diabetic and has had many, many surgeries, so diet was pretty critical. We took our time picking clothes - checking sizes and colors. She spent a long time selecting shampoo and soap. When we got to the adult gifts, she found a tray table and got very excited. She said that she eats a lot of her meals in bed and this was just what she needed. I think she actually clapped with joy...over a tray table.
After two hours of shopping (she really did have a great time), she gave me a big hug (again with the tear-filled eyes) and told me what a blessing it was to have been invited to come shopping - that this had made her holidays special.
I walked away with a new perspective on things. I know I SHOULD be thankful for all that I have. I know that I SHOULD be thankful for my health and well-being. I know that I SHOULD be thankful for a support system of family and friends that I could turn to if needed.
And now I AM thankful. And this, dear readers, is what I think the holidays are really about.