Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: Getting in the Thanksgiving mood

Received moments ago via email.

(Name withheld)

One cold Saturday in December of 2008, my two nieces, Kaitlin and Tess, and I set out on our Christmas Jar mission.

Inspired by the book and with the help of my sister who worked with the St. Vincent DePaul Society, we identified a local needy family. As we were told, the young mother had suffered a stroke leaving her physically dependent. Her husband was left to care for her and their young children. They were enduring some real financial hardship. They lived in a small but tidy home.

On that Saturday morning, the girls waited in the car as I made my way to the strangers' house with our Mason jar and a copy of the book. The plan was to ring the doorbell & leave the jar anonymously in keeping with the scripted theme of the book. Unbeknownst to me, the father heard my boots clomp along on the wooden wheelchair ramp that lead to a side door entrance to the house. Just as I rang the bell, the door swung open and a large, imposing figure looked down at me.

I quickly & awkwardly handed him the jar and said, "Merry Christmas."

He returned a warm, appreciative smile and returned a similar greeting "...and the same to you ma'am...thank you so very much."

It was such a brief and personal exchange, and I was moved to tears, overwhelmed with the joy of the season and the happiness that I received in this simple act of giving. My nieces agreed that this was "very cool" and a new tradition was born.

As important, this family gave me an intangible gift that would be revealed to me in the ensuing weeks. I lost my own job shortly after Christmas. As I mourned my personal loss, I reflected upon the many gifts that I did have in my own life, and the struggles of this family helped me to keep things in perspective.

I hope to carry the spirit of the season with me year after year thru the the gift of many more Christmas Jars.

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