Humbled: Helping Others This Holiday Season

My son and I were driving home on our usual route. We passed by stores and restaurants and were both quiet as we listened to the melody of “Knick Nack Paddy Whack” for the 100th time.

“There’s one of those people, Mommy!”

I turned to look and saw what his little eyes saw, a person standing on the side of the road with a sign. The red light had already turned green and I continued on not wanting to block the traffic behind me.

“No, Mommy! Turn around! We have to go back and give that person something! Because if someone has a sign that means they don’t have a home!”

I turned the car around at the next light and we went back and handed the man a dollar; the only amount of cash I had.

“God bless you. And what a beautiful boy you have.”

“Thank you,” I said, and I saw my son smile as I looked back in the mirror and we continued to make our way home.

“I’m so glad that you asked me to stop. It’s important to be kind to other people,” I said to my son as we drove away.

“Yeah, Mommy, but why don’t some people have homes?”

“It’s very sad when people don’t have homes. Some people don’t have enough money to buy a home.”

“I know what we should do Mommy! We should make stuff to give to the people without homes!”

“I think that’s a great idea! What should we give to them?”

“Maybe some candy and some water probably.”

“That’s such a good plan! What about some granola bars?”

 “Oh yeah, granola bars and I even have stickers!”

“I love this. We can get started as soon as we get home.”

We arrived home and were unloading the car when a man approached our driveway carrying a large ladder.

“Do you have a moment for me to clean your gutters?”

“No, I’m sorry, we…” I trailed off as he continued,

“Please. I’ll take whatever you can give me. My wife passed away in a car accident and I’ve got three boys at home. One of them’s about your little one’s age.”

My son in our front yard.
My son in our front yard.

Before I could really agree or disagree or ponder my decision, he was up on the ladder cleaning out our gutters.

I ushered my son inside and said, “You know how we were just talking about making bags for people that needed help? This man needs our help. Maybe we could make a bag for him?”

“Ok, Mommy!”

I got a bag from under the sink and my son started filling it with everything he deems essential; water bottles, candy, bubbles, stickers, and granola bars.

I talked to the man as he pulled leaves from our gutters and swept off our deck. He told me about his wife passing away in a car accident and how it’s hard for him to find work as a pipe line worker. I learned that his name was Patrick and that his children are allergic to peanut butter. And before he left, my son and I sent him away with two grocery bags full of food and the secret $20 I keep hidden in a drawer.

We watched the man walk away with the long ladder slung over his shoulder and two bags of groceries hanging off the end and I felt a rush of gratitude for all of the things in my life.

 “We were just talking about what we could do to help people that needed things, and then a man that needed help showed up at our door. I’m glad we were able to help him.”

“Me, too, Mommy. But why do some people not have food or homes?”

“I don’t know, love, it’s very sad. We are very lucky to have a home and food. I’m glad we can help people who don’t have those things.”

My son nodded in agreement and then we were onto our next adventure, but I found myself pondering the afternoon away.

I find it easy to become caught up in my own life, where my home and food are such basics that I often taken them for granted. My greatest worry about my home is cleaning it and my biggest challenge with food is shopping with a four year old in tow.

Sometimes, things line up just perfectly to remind us to be thankful for everything we have, even the things we so often take for granted.

How We Can Help

What ways will you give back to others this holiday season? Please let us know of any other local places to donate and give to others! Leave a comment below and let’s see how many ways we can give-back!

Julia has been a teacher and a performer, but currently spends her time as a full time mom and part time freelance writer. She thrives on chocolate, Starbucks, and slobbery toddler kisses and even though she wishes she liked exercising you will never see her running. She relocated to Richmond in 2010 and is proud to call it home. You can find her words at Elated Exhaustion, a sometimes funny, sometimes serious, always honest look at life with a toddler.