Friday, April 23, 2010
Lessons On Giving
Social services hand not been invented by municipalities when I grew up. If a family were in need they could always get assistance such as food and heat vouchers; but many felt too embarrassed to seek this kind of help. Work was always available on the municipal labour crews. In the winter men could be seen with shovels in hand cleaning sidewalks and spreading sand. In the summer months they were equipped with push brooms and could be seen sweeping town sidewalks and curbsides. A particularly needy family lived a block away in a very small shack. They would accept nothing from anyone! Such was their pride.
Our local firemen and policemen assembled Christmas ‘white baskets’ …..bushel hampers filled with everything edible for a family’s celebration dinner. One Christmas didn’t a knock come to our door and the Firemen’s Association was delivering a ‘white basket’ to our house; a fireman up the street thinking we may need it. My poor dad, and the ‘oh, no’s’. He asked if they would mind if he gave it to someone who really needed it and they consented and he advised who….their comment was they had tried in years past but had always been rejected. Of course we children wanted to keep the basket certain there were 'goodies' we never, ever saw.
Dad loaded the basket on the sled and off he went with my mother’s words “you know they won’t even answer the door”. About a half hour later he arrived back home without hamper. He had been chatting with the man of the house and indeed was welcomed and they accepted the hamper. There was a humility about my stepdad that was non-threatening, he never ever thought he was above anyone else…. and this proud family of nine children accepted from my stepdad what they would accept from no other. When he told how elated the family was to see a turkey I realized I didn't really need the goodies the hamper contained.
The second incident concerned the daughter of this family; the only only girl and a classmate. In winter months she had only short stockings and a threadbare little coat. And winters were cold … as cold as -40 and colder. My grade five teacher purchased a snow suit for the girl with leggings, winter boots, mittens and hat. However the girl only wore it at school in the playground, careful that her brothers didn’t see her. At the end of winter the suit was kept at school for her use the following winter.
This was the school year I learned the gift of giving, humbly, and with one’s heart and about truly caring for those around you!
The painting accompanying this blog is discussed:-
Conquered - Painter's Block