Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

One day, when I was about five years old, there was a knock at the door and my big sister and I ran to the front door to see who it was.  We didn’t get visitors very often and we hoped that the knock was bringing someone fun.  It was just before Christmas and it had been wet so we couldn’t go out and play.  We were bored and hoped the knock meant something for us to do.

Through the window we could see a man and a lady that we didn’t know.  The lady told us to go get our mom so we did.  It turned out that the man and lady were from St. Patrick’s Church, where we attended mass most Sundays.  The lady told my mother that our name had been given to them as a family that could use some extra help at Christmas time.  She asked my mom questions to verify our name and that there were seven kids in the family.  She had our names and ages and she also knew that my father was the only one who worked and that he worked at one of the local canneries.

My mom verified the information for them and they said to wait just a minute while they went to the car to get us some boxes.  It was really neat to sit at the top of the front steps and watch as the man and lady went back and got the boxes.  They brought them up the stairs then said there was more.  They made two more trips to the car; one was for food boxes and the other was for boxes filled with wrapped gifts with our names on them!

My mother was so happy that she cried and hugged the lady. Inside, as my mom went through the boxes of food, my brothers and sisters and I watched her pull out cans of vegetables and fruit and canned milk.  There were two small turkeys and some rice and beans and macaroni.  As she pulled cans out of the boxes, we asked her why those people had brought us food and presents.  She said that sometimes churches and schools gave food to people who needed it because they were good people and wanted everyone to have a good holiday.

It was a pretty neat feeling to know that people we didn’t even know cared about us enough to bring us food and presents.  I have never forgotten that day.  There were other times we got “Christmas baskets” from the church and sometimes from the school, but that one first time that I was aware of was the most special time.

Many years later, when I was in college, one of the activities that my dorm was involved in was collecting canned goods and putting together food boxes for the families in East Palo Alto (a very economically depressed area).  A few of us got to go out to deliver the food to the families.  I was one of the lucky ones to make the home visits that year.  The families were so genuinely appreciative!  They invited us into their homes and wanted to give us what little food they had.  Not a single family let us leave without coming in and sitting with them for a few minutes.  It was a very special feeling, being on the receiving end of the gratitude.  Not easy to forget.

I’ve had the privilege of making those home visits to drop off food packages a number of times since my college days.  I won’t forget those times.  They are constant reminders that it is indeed better to give than to receive.

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