A Mile In Someone Else’s Shoes…

I have joined a fantastic group of ladies, who are involved in a weekly blog project. Every Thursday, we will dazzle you with our insight on various topics. And each week, we take turns coming up with the idea for the blog topic. Please check out their blogs as well, listed under my Blogroll section. Just click on:

Froggie (Tracey): An experiment in knitting, writing- and life

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Mom Of Many (Susanna): One Mom’s perspective on life, raising kids, knitting and other unrelated topics.

This week, Tracey chose: “Try walking a mile in their shoes”; for our next topic talk about a time you finally experienced circumstances you never had before which helped you understand what someone else was going through. What effect did that experience have – Were you more sympathetic towards that person? More humbled? Or, did it not change your opinion at all?

Years ago, while living in Arizona, I worked for a company who would adopt a family every Christmas- purchasing food, donating gifts. We would be given a family who was down on their luck; they couldn’t afford to have Christmas, and that’s where we stepped in.

I absolutely hated it.

I wanted to help. I know it feels good to give. Yet I was struggling with my past, and where I’ve been. Most of my childhood was spent on welfare. My parents were divorced, and although my father paid child support every month (and did the best he could with what he had) it certainly wasn’t enough. My mother chose not to work, and we relied on government assistance. Many times, and not just during the holidays, my mother would sign us up for food boxes, for gifts donated. Other times we’d drive over to Salvation Army, and look through the pantry there.

I was goaded into traveling with my co-workers, to drop off the gifts and food we’d purchased. I was fine to be anonymous with the whole process, but we were to be a united front, which is completely understandable. I just didn’t want to be around a family and remember how it felt to receive those handouts. The pity in someone’s eyes. The look of remorse on their face as they pressed a wrapped gift into the palm of your hand.

We arrived at the family’s home, modest but no where near what you would consider “poor”, as some would assume. The house was clean and well kept, nicely furnished. A fir tree sat decorated in the living room, no presents underneath. I knew this scene all too well. The father sat on the couch, looking distant, cast on his left leg, crutches lying on the floor. He’d broken his leg, and had been out of work- and lost his job in the process. His wife offered us beverages, as we stood around, most of us wrapped in fancy work attire, others carrying Chanel purses.

The children sat on the floor, looking nervous, and embarrassed. This hadn’t been planned. Their father never chose to become injured, or to lose his job. These were decent, hard working individuals, and in one stroke life had dealt them a lousy hand.

And here we were, reaching out- and I can’t speak for those who were with me that day, but I know not once did I feel as though this family was some worthless poor trashy group who were just looking for handouts. Somewhere in my youth, I associated my life with that one, and I realized in that moment that there was nothing wrong with ME back then, and nothing wrong with this family, now. Certainly nothing wrong with me or my co-workers, wanting to make a nice Christmas for a more than deserving family.

I grabbed the box of presents and sat myself next to the children, one a pre-teen, the other two preschoolers. I smiled and asked their names, and started handing out each gift, one by one.

It was a wonderful afternoon. I hope we made them feel as good as I felt. I hope over the years, they’ve been able to pay it forward and have helped others who have needed it along the way.

I know I will always try to.

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2 thoughts on “A Mile In Someone Else’s Shoes…”

  1. Wow. That’s all I can say. Great post!
    Did you see this past week’s episode of “Desperate Housewives?” What you said reminded me of the dialogue between Vanessa Williams and the new hot guy in town. He took her to a charity event and she felt uncomfortable because she used to be on the receiving end.

  2. Sara, we notice that some of your stories are about what happened in your past. You wrote about some bad things that happened when you were little up to you were a teenager. Everybody has something bad or tramatic happen to them but they don”t let it haunt them. Take your Daddy for example. When I was 9 years old I went to a boys summer camp naer Pikes Peak in Colorado. This was run by some collage kids. One night me and this kid wrestling around just before bedtime. We were just having fun. we were not fighting. Two of the collage guys tied my arms behind my back with a rope and also tied my legs. They lifted me up and put me in the bed that way. They did the same with the other kid. I lay all tied up untill the next morning when they untied me to have breakfast and do my chores. I never slept that night. They did that to other kids too.When I told my mom about it at first she thought i was telling a story to get out of the camp. Then other kids told their mom”s and also told my mom. Twice I was tied up this way. Those people who ran the camp got into bad trouble. Some almost went to jail. The head person of the Boys camp had to make restitution to all those that they did this too. My mom was furious. I was glad she knew I was telling the truth. Sara from what I read of your blogs you are a writter of reality. I hope you are not letting things that hapened to you when you were younger haunt or get to you. You have a great life with a special husband Kevin and two beautiful wonderful kids Ben and Noylan, A good job and a nice house. You are a great mother to both of them better than I was with you and Carrie. If you want to talk about any thing that happened in your life when you were a kid let me know. Like you what happened to me was terrible but i did not let it haunt me. I moved on. Please do not be made at me or Helene. We love you and care about. I am not trying to but into your life. We are trying to understand what you are feeling. We think your blogs are neat. You remind me of John boy of the waltons TV show.. Believe it or not the waltons was a true story. John boy became a writter later on in his life. I hope you get to do the same thing with your blogs. You are a good writter. We love you.

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