Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Delivering Christmas

Friday Dec 18th. My company volunteered to spend a day working for the Christmas Cheer Board. I think we had 26 people show up to donate their time for the day. When the email came out asking for workers, I was eager to jump on the band wagon - outside of donating toys with the kids, I'd never had any experience with the Cheer Board before.

And what an experience it was.

As I was getting ready that morning, my husband walked back through the door. He'd left for work less than an hour prior and I was surprised to see him.... but it turns out it was quiet at work and he'd casually mentioned to his boss that he should be out delivering hampers with me for the day instead - and, being huge community supporters, he boss agreed! Bonus!

So now we were a team.... and how great to have a former courier driver on board with the backlog of deliveries the Cheer Board had.

We had no idea what to expect or what we would be doing for the day, but for the entire 24 hours prior every second commercial on the local radio stations was a call for volunteers to come out and deliver hampers.... so many to go out still and so little time left. We were fairly certain that we could get ourselves assigned to deliveries with no trouble whatsoever.

And we were right. The warehouse was jammed with hampers waiting to go out.... and with the back of the van empty of seats and my personal courier driver knowing where we were going and organizing the loads, we managed to take 25 hampers out to the people waiting anxiously for them to arrive.

It was an eye-opener. And it was an emotional journey.

I was fine with the inner-city deliveries to single people - sad at the condition of some of the rooming houses and the like that we visited and such, but OK.... it just felt nice to be doing something good in someone's day.

But the afternoon deliveries that we did to the homes - especially the ones with kids, really hit me. I should have expected that.

The one home we visited had 4 boxes coming to them; 3 jammed with food and 1 huge one just filled with a present for each child. They were all there when we knocked on the door.... the kids peeking around to see who was there.... and the littlest one, a girl not much older than my own, was so excited to see the box of presents.

"Oh PRESENTS!!" was her excited, happy little squeal.

That just did me in. Turning and walking back to the car I was crying. I couldn't even put a name on everything I was feeling but it was overwhelming. I was feeling horribly guilty for everything our family had.... I was feeling incredibly sad for the lives those children must regularly live.... I was feeling good that they would have something, however small to grace their Christmas day.... I was feeling too much to label.

Another, older gentleman we delivered to was so gracious in his thanks that I was again moved. He told us his story of the sudden heart attack that had put in out of work a few months earlier.... and how awful he felt about how hard this Christmas was going to be for his wife.... and what a difference this Christmas hamper was going to make for them. It was humbling. But for the grace of God and all....

I walked out of there thinking "here's a man who's probably worked and scraped his whole life and never asked for a hand up before.... and anyone of us could find ourselves in his shoes".

Man.

We spent 6 hours on the road that day.... and it was the best 6 hours I spent all year.

I appreciated this Christmas so much more and I was reminded, powerfully, that it's about so much more than what you get or what you can provide.

I think giving some of our time to the Cheer Board each year needs to become a new Christmas tradition in our family.

2 comments:

Naomi said...

Absolutely amazing. Glad you spent the day ... what a GREAT thing!!!

familyandthesuburbs said...

Shannon what a wonderful post ... it brought me to tears ... I am so happy you got to share the experience with Oz ... and that you are going to make it a tradition ...