My aim on this blog has been to explore my own happiness, as I try to make it a permanent state of being. I’ve picked quotes, pictures, songs, videos that all inspire me to be happy and decided to share them. However, today I experienced a kind of happiness that I hadn’t felt in a long time. The pure and simple happiness of doing something for someone else.
Every Christmas my parents really go all out. In fact I can’t remember a Christmas where there wasn’t a final gift (chosen by my father) that really knocked my socks off! It’s been earrings, an iPhone, a boom box when I was 8, a laptop, etc… I’ve truly been blessed. However, a few weeks ago my dad was saying at Thanksgiving that he felt like we should really give back this holiday season, and it resonated with me.
In college I was in a community service sorority that served the greater Los Angeles; some of my happiest memories were working with my friends to help others. Since I graduated college though, life has been in warp speed. The adjustment has been hard, and I’ve lost track of some of the fundamental parts of myself that make me happy, like a giving heart. This past week as I sat at my desk pondering my quota for work, answered emails from clients, and prospected for new potential opportunities, I randomly ran a Google search to find out how to sponsor a family for Christmas. Lo and behold I got in touch with the Family Support Services of the Bay Area and asked if I could still get involved at this late juncture. I wanted to continue my support of women, so I asked for a single mom.
A few days ago I got my assignment. A single mom and her two daughters (16 and 11) who live in a one-bedroom apartment in Oakland. I read their Christmas wish list, and I’ve never been so humbled in my life. Teenage girls asked for socks. Socks! They asked for sweaters, boots, and warm comforters. The mom didn’t ask for a single real wish (the girls had also included some wishes for lotion and gift cards); she limited herself to a blanket, pots & pans, and some warm apparel. Here I’ve been writing my Christmas list of makeup brushes and perfume, and two young girls were asking a stranger for a warm blanket.
My dad and I went shopping today and bought everything that we could find off that list. What started off as a whim and a blind hope to do good turned into an actuality this afternoon. I even threw in a few surprises, an iTunes gift card, gift cards to Best Buy, a gift card to Gap/Old Navy, and some pretty earrings for the mom. Needless today I’m going to bed feeling as if I made a dent in the economic disparity that haunts the holidays (at least in some small way).
For those of us who never worried about if our moms and dads were going to have food on the table for dinner, and we nonchalantly sent Santa itemized lists with detailed descriptions of the most “in” toys, perhaps it’s time to take a good look around us. Don’t just be thankful for what you have; give someone else something that they don’t. I promise you won’t be disappointed.