Each year, our company sponsors two families in the area during the holidays who would otherwise not have much of a Christmas, if they had one at all. It is interesting how diverse the stories we hear are. Some folks have fallen on particularly hard times economically, some have had some tough breaks in life and are playing with the hand they’ve been dealt. Aren’t we all, to some degree?
In the past, I have donated monetarily, or purchased gifts for these families, and watched them be wrapped by our wonderful “elves” and then shipped off with an employee to be delivered to the families we’ve chosen. Our company is great for these things – our employees are always more than willing to generously help out those in need using whatever resources they have available. In these times especially, the people that have needed some cheer could use a little more, and we didn’t fail them for sure.
I decided this year, along with Valerie ( office manager extraordinaire, and the first one you usually talk to if you call ) to be one of the lucky folks that delivers the gifts to one of our families. I’d not done it before in my 13 years at Pioneer Millworks, so I decided that having a pickup bed that could hold plenty was a good enough reason, plus I wanted to see the light on the faces of the kids. I couldn’t have even prepared myself for how it would feel.
Arriving at their apartment, Valerie and I were met by Sheila Murphy, who helps us get in touch with a different family each year in the city. While Sheila occupied the kids, we brought in 2 HUGE tubs of gifts and 2 large boxes to boot! Their mother was beside herself, and couldn’t believe there was more after the first trip. Once we had brought up the last of the gifts, Valerie handed her a nice envelope of gift cards to the grocery store, to make sure there would be a nice dinner on the table for the holiday. She was almost speechless, but squeaked out a “Thank you” under the near tears in her eyes. We went downstairs and met the rest of the family – 3 and 5 year old boys, and a 2 year old girl, who were all sitting with their grandmother on the couch. Sheila helped introduce us to everyone in the family, and while shy at first, they started to open up after a bit and tell some of their story. I give a lot of credit to any single mother, and with the 2 boys being special needs children, and her Mother being in a wheelchair, she’s keeping things together quite well. The little girl couldn’t get enough in the way of showing me her toy keys, or sitting on my knee as we talked about the holidays. As the group of us talked more, they revealed that just after last Christmas, a family member was lost to a murder, one which was solved thankfully, and the killer recently jailed for multiple life terms, as he was responsible for 3 other killings. I cannot even fathom the loss of a family member in such a horrendous manner, and yet they celebrated her life, and used it as fuel for living theirs as best they could in her honor. Seeing their spartan surroundings & tight quarters, coupled with their hardships of the past year, would make anyone thankful for what they have. But as I kneeled at the foot of the stairs, tying the shoes of the little girl before I left, I thought not of how thankful I was for what I had, but how thankful I was for having met her and her family. Just because someone doesn’t have a lot is not an indication that they did something wrong to get there. People have bad luck from time to time, or make a mistake here & there. We’re all still deserving of a warm meal or a present under the tree. It is those of us in our world of plenty that should be thankful for the people that remind us that sometimes living one day at a time is more than a catch-phrase, it is genuinely how life needs to be lived. You can have all the money in the world, all the material things you want, but without the joy of a family; the smile of a young boy getting a soft teddy bear; the eyes of a little girl gazing at the Christmas tree; the laughter of a child in his favorite super hero costume; the kind words of a mother and grandmother watching over them all…..Nothing else matters. Their living room, even if for the brief time we were there, was washed of the troubles of the past, and filled with hope for the future. Not that we were solely responsible for that hope – but by lending an interested ear, and re-assuring them that there are people that care and do good in the world, they will pay it forward and work to make their lives better, as well as those around them.
The holidays are about family, counting your blessings, and giving to others. Make sure you take some time to hug the kids and your family, help a stranger, and enjoy the simple things we often overlook during the year.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Pioneer Millworks. We appreciate your business and look forward to a prosperous New Year.