The Greatest Gift
The other day my nonprofit received in the mail a $3 cash donation from a man that lives in Byhalia, Mississippi. Inside he had written, “Please accept this donation.” Our agency has received donations of over a hundred thousand dollars, but I can tell you that $3 meant as much to us as any donation we have ever received.
The letter had a return address, so I decided to hand deliver the customary thank you letter. When I arrived at his house I found an elderly man living in a small, but well kept home. I introduced myself and he invited me in. We must have talked for over an hour. He is a widower who had fought in WWII, raised a family and now he spends his time fishing and watching the evening news. He said he had a great grandson that had gotten into some trouble here in Memphis and our nonprofit had worked, as he said, "to help him get his head straight." I politely pretended I remembered his great grandson, but truthfully we see so many troubled youth it's hard to remember them all.
He said he knew the three dollars was not a lot but he wanted us to know that he appreciated what we had done. I told him that we would put his money to good use. When I got up to leave I could not help but give his small, frail body a warm hug good-bye. As I drove back to Memphis I thought about the many good people that live in this world. No they will never be famous, or powerful, or wealth. But these are the true heroes, the unsung souls who are the backbone of our great society.
I believe we’ve made an egregious mistake. Though I believe in capitalism, I fear we have allowed capitalism to define who and what we are. We put things ahead of people. When we first meet someone we ask them what they do for a living, and from that we decide their value. We buy houses and cars we can not afford; we live beyond our means, all in some vain attempt to find happiness. As if happiness is to be found neatly wrapped and sitting on a shelf.
Now that the holiday season is here I ask you to find time between the mad rush of shopping, decorating, and completing your list of tasks, to remember the real reason that we celebrate; not for gifts or parties, or merriment, but we celebrate the spirit of hope and promise. We celebrate the bonds of family and friends. We celebrate those things that will not be found under a Christmas tree for it resides in the hearts and souls of all of us. It is that moment which allows us to forget, if only for an instant, our differences and see everyone for what they truly are, God’s Children. To you and yours, happy holiday.