With the holidays in full swing, I decided to do something different this week. What follows is a story by an unknown author about the power of giving that I thought was worth sharing during this season of generosity…
“One morning during the winter of 1960, I woke up to find that my children’s father had left. I had less than a dollar in my wallet and six hungry kids to feed. If there was a welfare system in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.
“I put on my best homemade dress, then loaded all the kids into our old Chevy and drove off to find a job. The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in town. I tried to convince whoever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything.
“The last place we went was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop called the Big Wheel. The old woman who owned the place needed someone on the graveyard shift, from eleven at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night.
“After racing home, I bargained with our teenage babysitter to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. We agreed that she could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep.
“That night, when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all expressed our gratitude for Mommy’s new job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.
“As the weeks went by, our heating bills began to strain my meager wage. I was paying over half my nightly tips to the babysitter, and the tires on our old Chevy had begun to leak. Each day, I had to fill them with air on the way to work, and again before going home.
“One bleak morning, I dragged myself to the car and found four new tires in the back seat. There was no note, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I made a deal with the owner of the local service station to clean up his office in exchange for mounting the new tires.
“Christmas was coming, and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on my boys’ pants.
“On Christmas Eve, the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel: the truckers Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. They sat and talked through the night, leaving before the sun came up.
“When it was time for me to go home on Christmas morning, I hurried to the car. I was hoping the kids wouldn't wake up before I could get the presents from the basement and place them under the small cedar tree we’d cut down near the town dump. It was still dark and I couldn't see much, but there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car.
“I peered warily into one of the side windows, and my jaw dropped in amazement. My old battered Chevy was filled to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I scrambled inside and faced the back seat.
“Reaching back, I pulled the lid off the top box. Inside was a whole case of little blue jeans in kids’ sizes! Another box was full of shirts to go with the jeans. I peeked inside some of the other boxes and found candy, nuts, bananas and other groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.
“As I drove through empty streets with the sun slowly rising on the most amazing Christmas of my life, I sobbed with gratitude. Yes, there really were angels in Indiana that December… and they hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.”
The holiday season is a great time to reflect on the Live to Give Mindset, because giving isn’t just about gifts. It’s about offering something, whether it’s food or help or even just a thank you, to remind others that they’re not alone. Happy Holidays!
Until Next Week…
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