Thursday, December 15, 2011
Tis The Season For Sharing
My father in law used to tell this story around this time of year....Christmas. In fact, he told it over and over....like plenty of older folks do, they repeat things and stories. And he would always get big tears in his eyes and a catch in his throat when he told it. Last night in Austin, I was around the dinner table with three of my fellow crew members and somehow we got to talking about stories of goodwill, Christmas, helping others, and all of that. So, I shared this story.....and even I had to stop about halfway through because I'm a big old crybaby. The story is a keeper, to say the least. It took place around the mid 1930s.....when my father in law was around ten or so. Ohio, winter time, snow everywhere, cold....in the middle of the depression. Times were super tough for everyone. They still are. Take the time to share, to relate, to give attention to others. Share stories. Share your life, your happy times, your lessons.
Dinner was nearly ready when the coal truck pulled into the driveway with a delivery for heating the house. Dinner was soup on this particular night. While the delivery man was shoveling the coal into the coal chute at the side of the house, my father in law who was only around ten years old noticed a little boy sitting in the front seat of the delivery truck. Waiting. He looked cold. So, my FIL asked his mother if they could invite the little boy and the man into the house for a cup of soup. His mother said "Of Course," and added another cup of water to the soup to make it stretch. The man and his son came into the house and had soup with the family. A cold night, a warm kitchen, a family with the coal delivery man and his small son.
Fast forward to the following spring. A knock at the front door. "Do you remember me?," the man asked when my FIL's mother answered the door. "I was the coal delivery man who was here last winter...you invited me and my young son into your house to have soup with you. I've taken a new job now. I'm painting houses and I'd like to paint your house for free." My FIL's mother didn't understand but the man continued. "You see," he said "On the very day that I delivered your coal and you invited us in, I was at the end of my rope. We were broke and I could not provide for my family any longer. And I thought it was best if I ended my life. I was on my way to take my life on the very day that you invited me in. But I didn't.....because of you and your hospitality."
Tis the season for sharing and giving. Not receiving. Not wanting. Not being greedy. Not even football or food or shopping. But for giving. To others. For absolutely nothing in return. Make sure that those around you feel welcome and that their needs are met. For it is in giving that we receive.