It was clear to me this morning at 5:30am what I needed to write about, a new and unexpected Christmas cheer. Yesterday’s schedule was filled with ‘tinselectomy‘ opportunities and I had an expectation of how each of them would play out. I was so off base, but it made me understand how I and other people are experiencing a transformation to humble altruism.
Amy had a wonderful idea, to feed the guys in downtown Frisco, the men that are desperately looking for any available work to feed their families. They stand outside the Exxon, rain or shine, and I know that because it was raining yesterday. Amy posted this lunch idea on Facebook last week. Nancy saw it, and loved the idea so much, she planned to do this. It ended up that all three of us got together and prepared 30 lunches to take to these guys.
Our everyday beaten paths lead us down Main street regularly, enough to know that we would have enough lunches, but not enough to know if these guys would be outside in the very cold rain. As we approached, they were there, all of them, scanning the passing cars with a hopeful look that someone would have a paid task for them. As I drove into the parking lot, I didn’t even come to a stop before there were at least 12 men swarming around the car. We had to wait for them to step away from the doors so we could get out to give them the lunch bags we had prepared.
As we passed out the lunch sacks, all of them were very polite and said “gracias”, Amy and I responded with “de nada”, one of the ten Spanish words we know. Then Nancy starts having a conversation with them in Spanish. Who knew? Oh, she is SO going to Casa Hogar Elim soon! Nancy was asking if they had any friends that were out on jobs or if anyone was inside, because we would leave lunches for them. They were so happy to get the lunches and so polite, we had to persuade them to take extras or take some for their friends. Most of them were well into their sandwiches before we drove out of the parking lot.
As it turns out, we had 5 lunch bags left over. We drove over to the laundromat to see if there were any people over there that needed lunch. We gave away a couple more, and as we walking out the door, we ran into another lady. Nancy asked her if she would like a lunch. She asked “¿Cuánto dinero?” Of course, Nancy said it was free and explained what we were doing. The conversation slowly transitioned from Spanish to English. We only spoke with her briefly, but we got a chance to talk about church. She is another one of those people I would have loved to have sat down and talked with. I think at some point I’m going to go to the laundromat and do my laundry so I will have that opportunity.
Another Facebook thing, Jody (not me), who posted on the PTCC wall that she wanted to donate her hair to Pantene, a place making free wigs for women going through cancer treatments, got her hair cut yesterday. Since I had done Locks of Love a while back, I wanted to go with her for support. She was looking for other people to do this with her, and I would do this again, but my hair will have to grow for a long time before I have enough. I was there while she got her hair cut. She had the same look on her face that I did. the ‘oh, crap, I’m really doing this’ look, with the undertone of ‘this is a great cause and so worth it’ look. This is such an awesome thing to do. If you’re interested in donating your hair, I will come support you too! Steve Hodges is our resident expert on hair donation if you need someone to do it.
Finally, I had a photo shoot in downtown Dallas last night. My expectation? It’s downtown Dallas and surely I will run into some impoverished or homeless people. I went down there with some envelopes with money in them, inside the envelopes, a message that God loves them. I typically don’t like to give cash, because if they do have a drug problem or something like that, I don’t want to enable them. I realized I have changed my view on that a little bit. Even though I still believe the statement I just made, I also don’t want to be judgmental. The cash might help someone get a much needed meal or get them closer to a shelter. It’s been on my heart to start a program in Dallas, much like the Chicago Shares program, a voucher-based way to give, redeemable only for food and toiletries.
As it turns out, we ran into no impoverished or homeless people, but it did turn out to be a fun evening of photography and hanging out with some of my crazy friends. If you think this picture is weird, then you probably don’t want to join our photography group. If you like it, we do go out and play with our cameras on a regular basis.
My reality? I was somewhat disappointed that I didn’t run into anyone I could help. The disappointment was based on the knowledge that there are so many people that need help and I had a way to help, but no opportunity to do so.
The unexpected Christmas cheer, or we’ll call it another piece of the Christmas spirit, is encouragement. I feel like God is leading me to get outside myself. That’s not the easiest thing for me to do, or for anyone to do. Well, maybe Mama Lupita, and we can all learn a lot from her. I could blog all day long about this, but I have to go to work. I do have one closing thought. As I was walking home from taking my kids to school this morning, in the 24 degrees of bitter cold, I couldn’t help but think of all the homeless people that are out in this awful cold, all the people I didn’t run into last night. I can’t even comprehend not having a warm house to go to or not having any other options than to be out in the piercing arctic cold. I take my house for granted, but I walked into it this morning with a whole new appreciation. How do I find these people in need and how can I help them? I hope to answer that within my 25 days of Christmas blogging.