“Celebrate!” I used to hate this time of the year because I didn’t WANT to celebrate, I didn’t believe in ANYTHING and all the people who put up obnoxious decorations and sang carols made me hate the season even more!
Then I had an “incident” that changed my life. Miserable and self-defeated at age 23, I couldn’t find a job and I didn’t want to be around my family. Walking outside on the balcony of my aunt’s house, I closed the door behind me. At 250 miserable pounds, I had already stuffed myself at the overloaded family dinner table, and felt even more miserable and sorry for myself.
Leaning on the railing I just let it all out and began sobbing. No one inside could hear me over the raucous laughter of some stupid game the family was playing. It got louder as more drinks were consumed, and they didn’t even know that I was missing. I really didn’t care if they heard me or not – I just wanted them to leave me alone as they always did!
Then a little voice from the street below very quietly asked, “Lady, why are you crying?”
I looked down at a dirty little ten-year old boy wearing a stocking cap and gloves but no coat. I blurted out, “I hate all of the celebration, I hate my family and I hate all the Holiday fluff!” He dropped the stick he had been tapping and the tune he had been humming and said to me, “You have got to be kidding! I love this time of the year! Look at all those lights down the hill there, and the kids sledding in the park, and families together laughing and having fun.” I cruelly retorted, “Yeah, then why aren’t you with your family?”
Looking down he simple replied, “I’d like to be with a family. I’m on the way to the hospital to see my Mom now, and she ain’t doin’ so well. I never had a Daddy, so I kinda became the man of the house for my Mom. Now she ain’t doin’ well. So I am gonna put limbs around this stick and take it up to her room. See, I brought tinsel from home to decorate it too.”
You could write the end of the story from here, I’m sure. Yes, it is cliche’ – but yes, it is true. When Terrell had come upstairs to get the plate of food I gave him and a poinsettia for his Mom, that was only the beginning. I went to visit her several times myself, and we gradually became friends. This lady loved her son more than life itself, and she loved people. She was the encourager for the nurses and staff, and never met a stranger – including me. I watched her pour love into her son from a sterile hospital bed. Whatever that woman had, I wanted some of that!
Terrell and I became “buddies” and without even knowing it, I found myself thinking about his family more than my own. They had nothing – but they had everything.
They had joy, faith and unconditional love. Maybe they could teach me to give the same to my family who thought they had everything – but had nothing. The lesson learned that Holiday Season was the “Gift” everyone talks about but doesn’t often share. Mrs. Washington called her gift “God.” And I received her “Gift” through her son. I now “Celebrate.”
Read more posts by Debra Peppers, Ph.D. here.
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