A family tradition @ Christmas (probably NOT what you think)
All of the following is true, but I wanted to share it this season. I rarely if ever, talk about it to anyone.
My mother taught me something I've never forgotten, and I was the only one of her 3 children who every year was involved with her doing it ... right up to when she died. Afterwards, I continued the tradition. She would always find out, thru "sources", 3 families that were not going to really have a Christmas, due to whatever reason.... lost their jobs, couldn't afford it, too poor, whatever. They typically could not even remotely afford a Christmas dinner. She would have each person in the family down, ages, sizes, and everything else she could find out about them. Then we went shopping.
I learned the approach is everything.... never make them feel they owe you, nor that it's charity. It's a gift. Period. There is no-one to thank.
But we would show up (had never met them) with everything they could ever need for a Christmas dinner , including a huge turkey and presents for everyone. First, the knock on the door (usually me, even when I was a small kid) , and say excuse me ... but "we have a delivery for you" and have 1 box in hand. They would ask what it was, etc. and who sent it and I guess I was good at playing stupid... " Is your name ZZZZZ , it is , well I have no idea but it's for you " . Once they took the box..... usually 4-5 more good boxes filled with food stuff was then brought to the door by her and I, and then a load of Christmas presents. We often heard in the background, as we headed for the car for more "Honey ... you better come here quick". Usually, they were dumbfounded, asking who to thank for this.... and we would only say " I guess Santa , or say a prayer tonight and thank God for it" . IF they asked "did you do this " , we always would say... "we're just delivering it" . "But from who ? " .... "we aren't at liberty to say" or "we weren't told" . We would hear feedback later from the sources. These sources were like "look-outs" and if they heard of someone, learned of someone, etc. they would let us know. They all knew, only the most needy of cases and especially if they had kids, but not always. She had built a real network of informants. Later, several others began to adopt 3 families as well, and it grew.
The first year after my mother died, I knew I would somehow continue this. But, I ran into one family that was really bad off. It was a mother and her teenage daughter, and the father / husband had died 6 mo's earlier. They were never "well to do " in any way. He was the only support for the family and there was no life insurance. Jobs were tight... and she had no real skills, so was unable to find a job ... although she had been looking desparately. They were behind already on rent (he didn't make but just enough to keep them fed, clothed and a roof) and they had no bank account to rely on. Nothing. So, they were being evicted from the house right after Christmas. It was said they were at a point of having little to no food.
I sat down and told 4 friends of mine one day, I don't know how I"m going to do this, but I'm going to do this...... this is not just about Christmas, this is much more than that, but I need help. I was not asking for their involvement, I was asking for ideas.
Long story short ; "the miracle of Christmas" ....... is what happened.
Two days later they did something I told them NOT to do, but they wanted a "meeting" with me and had a few friends who wanted to come, if I would show up. So , I did. There were about 22 people in the room, to my shock. They had been asking others, who all wanted to be involved too, and to help in some way. They had even verified this woman's plight to be certain about it. They told me this and then said " organize us" ... what do you want us to do first ? Wow....
In the end, here's the results :
Their back rent was paid for, eviction was cancelled & in writing, and the landlord got into it and gave them a receipt for the next 6 months free. A minister at a church needed a secretary and assistant because theirs had left, he said she had the job and they would train her in any area she needed help. We had $1000 in cash. We had 20 + boxes of food and staples, plus all of the fixings for Christmas dinner. Someone got stores to donate make-up ...... You know how important clothes and make up are for a teenage girl , right ? .... as well as new clothes for them both. And, we had various Christmas presents as well.
And her car was broke down and not running. So, she was catching the bus and walking miles for job interviews.
When we were ready to go approach her at her home, we had 12 people show up (besides 2 of us) & in about 6 vehicles (loaded down) + 2 trucks. At first, they hid in a nearby convenience store parking lot. I and 3 others went to the house and knocked on the door.... and said "HI, we wanted you to have a good Christmas and need to talk to you". The first thing ... showing the mother the back rent was paid and eviction notice was cancelled. Her and her daughter went to tears. My thoughts were , if they are in tears over this, wait til they see what's coming. Then we gave her the notice the next 6 months were covered. She was saying this was the best Christmas in her life, then we asked if she'ld mind , but we had some presents and a Christmas dinner to give her... she kept saying it was already too much .... but, I told her, you haven't seen anything yet.... made the call and soon 6 vehicles and 2 trucks drove up.
People took all of the boxes of food in and had her direct them what cabinets to put what in. Then the presents were brought in. And, then ... the Christmas tree. Then... we asked her if we could have her car for 3 days, as it was being towed right then .... to such & such garage where they were going to fix it and make sure it was running well. She handed us the keys in disbelief. Then we advised her about the job, and handed her the $1000 to pay bills with (utilities that were behind, etc). I walked away saying to myself , " Mom, you had a hand in this , didn't you ".
I ran into this woman 2 yrs later. She was doing amazing, and told me how that day put them back on their feet, and had been nothing but positive since then. A man who owned a company and went to that church had given her another job that paid more than twice as much, etc. She even had to take me outside and show me the car she had just bought on payments. She said ... "you saved us that day". I could only say , No, we didn't ... it's not me or any of us , that you need to thank.
Doing things for people, adopting a family or a couple of families, even if it's for a meal.... can have a lot of impact. You never know where it will lead you, or how it might grow. But, you will have an impact on people's lives. And we never needed FEMA, nor the Fedl Govt, nor any other Govt agency to tell us it was OK, or to give us permission to do it. The Church who gave her a job, learned more about it and asked me to help them, because their entire congregation had decided that they were going to adopt 3 families for each family in the church , for Christmas. Again... no one was ever to know "where" nor "whom" anything ever came from.
Look for those who need someone to show them, humanity is not dead, we have not forgotten them, and they are not alone.................. not this Christmas. Do it once, and you will be doing it forever.
I thank "mom" , for the life lesson. You will feel very grateful for what you have, including your family ... and that's your gift.
Merry Christmas ! ! !