Human kindness is overflowing and I think it's gonna rain today
I spent more than six weeks raising donations of holiday gifts for vulnerable people. Our goal was to provide a gift for hundreds of people. I had to do this around my primary job duties so I was up at 5 AM, on the computer all evening long and tweeting during any spare minute. So many people helped, but there was just so much I had to on my own time.
As the project drew to a close, I found myself feeling sad and a little empty. I didn't shop for any gifts to give. I didn't decorate. I ate, slept, exercised and did all the important self-care, but putting up a tree just didn't make the list. I also lived "out loud" during all that time, cajoling people to donate, tweeting about events, sharing every moment to help people understand why it mattered. As Christmas Day drew near, I guess my sadness was palpable. I kept telling myself that all the good we accomplished should be enough, but I also realized how much personal joy I sacrificed.
Let me be clear, it was worth it because I had a warm home, a Ledcat and plenty of food. Feeling sad and lonely is not reserved for those who go without, but I am very aware of my good fortune. I have no reason to complain, simply to set the stage for my Christmas gift. Hopefully, next year there will be more hands to help and I am confident that will happen.
On Christmas Eve, my friend Kerry called me to say someone had wanted to drop off a gift for me at his shop and would I come down. He didn't know them. I was skeptical, assuming it was another gift for the holiday drive and thinking I would just get it after Christmas. He insisted it was for me. They had noticed my sadness on Twitter and wanted to do something for me. I honestly couldn't believe that so I said I would get it eventually.
Actually, to be honest, I told him to give it to someone in need because I didn't think I needed a Christmas gift as I had just collected more than 500 of them. He laughed at me and said it would be wating for me.
I didn't go get it. Monday, we took a walk around the Northside and stopped at the shop, obstensibly to visit Kerry but really to use the bathroom. When I came back, an envelope was sitting at my place. Then I remembered.
I opened it and found the following note:
Now I'm a little embarrassed to share this and I don't want to rhapsodize about holiday miracles or any such thing. But the gift was very generous and something I really liked and had a profound impact on me.
I believe when Randy Newman wrote the song lyric I quoted above, he captured the sense of being alienated so poetically. I had just experienced a massive flow of human kindness after I had been "showing them the way" to help. But, apparently, I kept stepping out of the way of the flow and into the shadows to avoid this being about me.
I didn't mean to share my sadness or any negative feelings during the holiday seasons, but a little part of me is really glad that someone heard me.
I want to thank my new friends for the lovely gift, but for something more precious. I now know how the people who received gifts from my project feel. I am very humbled by this whole experience and will carry that gift forward.