The Holidays. Theoretically, the most wonderful time of the year. Yes?
It can be.
I remember being…little. I must have been eight, because it was a year when we were at home for Christmas, and not visiting my grandparents in Arizona. My dad was still alive. I was the proud big sister of two brothers. I must have been eight.
Dad had been out of work for awhile. My family jokes about me being able to remember everything. Truthfully, there is a lot I don’t remember. I don’t remember how long my dad had been out of a job. I don’t remember if the company he had been working for was the insurance one, or the marketing one. I don’t think it was the computer-ish one, because that was the last job he worked before he died.
Actually, it was the computer one. It was my last Christmas with my dad, if I am remembering correctly. He’d been out of a job since October. Like many of the Christmases I remember from my childhood, we had the “talk.” The one about money being tight, and Christmas being small. I didn’t care, because I never really cared about the stuff.
I’m going to go ahead and assume that it was a couple days before Christmas, because the box contained food. So, a few days before Christmas, there was a box on our doorstep. A big box. Inside were presents and food from people I didn’t know. But I did know the box was for us. From people who wanted to give something to someone whose Christmas was going to be small.
I don’t believe in big turning points. I don’t believe that the course of an entire life can be whittled down to a bulleted list of phenomena that directed the trajectory of one person’s existence. I am comprised of some big moments, and innumerable small ones. My story is composed of a handful of “aha”s, but the pages are filled with details that are seemingly inconsequential.
Like a box on a doorstep.
But each Holiday season, I think about that box. I think about what it means to be grateful for what I have. I think about how fortunate I am to have had the experience of receiving kindness and generosity from those who were in a position to give it. And I think about the position I am in now, and whether I am becoming a person who remembers with gratitude the help she has received throughout her life — and whether she’s becoming a person who will extend help toward other people.
I don’t really have an answer for the question posed in that. I cannot tell you with certainty that I remember, or that I give. Sometimes I do. Sometimes, I do not.
But like clockwork, each year, I do remember — even if it is just for a few moments. A line in my story. A fragment. And I hope to someday be a person who affects change in the lives of others. To leave a box on someone else’s doorstep, and ease a little anxiety and heartache.