December 22, 2010 6:09 am
I have a bit of a confession to make here, I haven’t always been the most gracious person when presented with a gift.
There is one time in particular that sticks out in my mind. Five or six years ago during the holiday season, my family received an unexpected knock at our door. It was about a week before Thanksgiving and a local church was distributing holiday meals to families “in need”.
My memory is fuzzy, it was either the year we had three boys under the age of two, or the year all our sons were less than 3 years old and we had just discovered we were expecting baby number 4. Either way, things were tight, but very few people knew just how tight they were. To this day, I have no idea how we landed on their list. We didn’t attend the church and couldn’t name a single person we knew that was aware of our situation that might have turned us in.
The guests were kind, brought the food in and with my husband’s assistance, carried the turkey with all the trimmings to our kitchen. I’m pretty sure I took a child or two and pretended to be busy, changing a diaper. I was embarrassed and on the verge of angry. How could anyone think we were needy? Who would put our names on one of those lists? Thankfully, my husband was gracious and thankful, maybe it was because he’d had more sleep than I. The strangers said a quick prayer and were on their way.
The tremendous blessing of that turkey was revealed a few days later when family unexpectedly dropped in at a mealtime along their own holiday road trip. We had food enough for everyone, which wouldn’t have happened without the gift from the church. We had a lovely, stress free holiday meal with lots of laughter.
In the years since, I’ve regretted my ungrateful, prideful attitude. I wish I would have had better behavior that night, despite how I felt at the time. That meal made such a positive impact on our family that for the last two years my husband and I have trimmed our personal grocery budget and used holiday bonuses to donate holiday meals to other families through a similar program here in St. Louis. Our children think it’s a lot of fun, but have no idea why it is so important to mommy and daddy to buy groceries to donate to other families.
All those years ago, I assumed people just gave because they felt sorry for the “less fortunate”, but never did I think that maybe they had personally been in a similar place and received a blessing from someone else. Now I understand that many who give to programs like these have themselves been a recipient at some point in time. They give because they truly understand what a positive difference it can make for a family. They know first hand that meeting a need can take a great deal of stress off a family.
Truthfully, I think many families struggle at some point, especially young families. There are a lot of expenses that go with having a baby and often times one little bump in the road, like a job loss, medical expense or major car repair, makes it difficult to recover financially.
What I now realize is that someone who knew us and likely had survived life with three very young children just wanted to bless us. Thankfully, not even my poor attitude kept me from receiving that blessing, even if it took me a few days to realize what a blessing it was.
That experience, and a few years of maturity, have revealed to me how important it is to be gracious when presented with a gift. Whether it’s the ugliest hand knit acrylic sweater from your color blind aunt, a plastic battery operated toy from your mother who knows you don’t purchase toys made in China or a turkey given without warning as an act of charity, it’s important to be gracious when receiving a gift.
Share with us your story of how you graciously received an unexpected gift or you received an unexpected blessing.