As a veteran widow, I thought weepy moments during church services were behind me. But during the recent Christmas program, I wiped my eyes often. It was time to draw upon the lesson I learned years ago.
The first Christmas after my husband’s death, I dreaded the holiday. But I had two young children who needed me—and needed to see that other folks hurt, too. So I called the Salvation Army and offered our help. Our assignment was food delivery, so on a bitterly cold morning we lugged boxes to above-the-store apartments and weather-beaten houses. We offered a hearty “Merry Christmas” at each home, but the cold penetrated my heavy coat—and my heart. I was cold, the weather was miserable, and I wasn’t making a difference. After all, if we didn’t deliver the groceries, someone else would. Then we arrived at the last tired house. Inside, everything was clean, but the floor covering was worn to the boards. Only near the walls were pieces of tile, and the thin curtains had been mended countless times. As I set the food box on the kitchen table, the elderly couple thanked us repeatedly. Then their voices were wistful as they asked us to “stay awhile.” During our brief visit, I discovered the woman’s need for a coat. I held out mine.
She hesitated then said, “God bless you, honey,” as tears rolled down her cheeks. All I could do was whisper, “Thank you for letting me do this.”
My children didn’t speak until we were outside again and heading toward our car. Then my 9-year-old daughter turned to me.
“Mom! It’s freezing! And you gave away your coat!”
I squeezed her shoulders. “I know. But this is the warmest I’ve been in a long time.”
Yes, the help I offered to someone else actually helped me. That’s what I need to remember—no matter the season.