…was my daughter’s enthusiastic remark to time spent serving food to the needy at the community center on Christmas. My husband and I couldn’t have agreed more. Spending a portion of our Christmas Day bringing joy to others in a tangible way felt good…really good. I don’t think it’s possible to measure the blessings our family felt in giving to those who have so little, when we have so much by comparison. Having individuals approach us with thanks for what we’d done, was truly the best gift of the day. I highly recommend such gifting. To give what we can of ourselves…be it materially or spiritually.
While it was my idea to answer the call to volunteer, my husband and daughter joined in wholeheartedly. They agreed we could delay our own Christmas celebration until after we’d brought a little merriment to others, among them…the homeless…seniors on a fixed income…unemployed unable to afford regular meals…young families finding it difficult to support families…individuals living alone who crave companionship. No one is turned away from partaking of our community meal.
An early riser my husband got things rolling with a recipe for sticky buns. After washing the sleep from my eyes I helped slice the rolled dough with its tasty cinnamon mixture tucked inside. My husband carefully placed the slices in a couple of pans prepared with a syrupy glaze and chopped walnuts. I then whipped up a couple of pans of an ambrosia salad using mandarin oranges, pineapple chunks, flaked coconut, mini-marshmallows and sour cream. Quite yummy, if I must say so myself. We finished off by working together on a couple of pans of a spinach souffle. In addition, we contributed two pans heaped full of juicy, flavorful spiral ham.
My daughter awoke last since she’d been up wrapping presents for my husband and me into the wee hours of the morning. We wanted her to be her smiling best when helping to dish up the homemade goodies brought by all the volunteers. It’s amazing how, when given the opportunity, we can reach past barriers, real and imagined, to offer companionship…if only for a few hours. We all benefitted, I’m sure, by socially interacting with those we might not otherwise ever approach.
I’ve great admiration for the more dedicated volunteers. They share an easy camaraderie with the regular diners. Newcomers surveying the group wouldn’t easily discern the volunteers from the needy. All sit down together to share the meal. Conversation flows. Laughter and smiles abound. Today my family and I took our turn at sitting and visiting a spell. Usually we remain posted behind the table of food, happily dispensing spoonfuls to the hungry.
One gentleman diner shared a bit of prideful news with me as we sat across from one another.
“Do you like to read nonfiction?” he asked.
“Yes.” I replied.
Removing a book from the huge pocket that fronted his hoodie, he handed it to me with instructions that I turn to page 50. There, he explained, I would find an interview between himself and the author. Reading the passage I soon learned that my fellow diner identified himself with the being who personified inner, radiant light…as described by the writer. I smiled, handing the book back to its owner.
No, I didn’t think I was sitting down to sup with a loony case. If I’d wanted, I’m sure the gentleman would’ve been an engaging conversationalist. It is I who lacks the expansive imagination to visit other worlds. I would love to write fantasy…but alas, I don’t. But I would love to…maybe one day…for a story’s been brewing in my non-fiction brain…for some time.
Musicians from my church came by to entertain with Christmas carols. All joined in the singing…eyes twinkling as the spirit of the holiday sprinkled its magic upon our heads…and in our hearts. God‘s presence was palpable.
We who volunteered a little of our time and energy…received so much in return…from the downtrodden in our community. Through their intercession, we were filled with the Almighty’s mercy…and the grace of the Blessed Virgin.
No, I’m not a religious zealot…
…but I am a believer…in compassion…and hope…for each other…as well as ourselves…