Christmas 2022 was another lean one at our house. No income, no Christmas gift budget, so I got creative. Jasini and I got gifts for each other from our SNAP funds. We looked throughout the store to find food items we could gift to others and each other.
For Jasini and I, our gift was found in he reduced bakery items aisle. For half-price we purchase a 8 inch square dense chocolate brownie with cream cheese frosting. It was so dense that I cut it in half, and then one of the halves in half, and cut that into four 2-inch squares that we each had one of, and then the other two squares later in the day.
We gifted before Christmas day itself, on the day purchased, a couple of days before.
Now we have helped a lot of people down on their luck, and one lady who has passed in and out of our place happened to stop in that day to get out of the cold and stay a couple of days. We told her where the food was that was open for people to eat, the same places she always knew, and put the remaining brownie away in a hidden place. Did she eat any of the items in the allowed places? No, but she dug through things and found the hidden brownie, and ate one of the two remaining pieces. In other words, she ate herself, in one sitting, what Jasini and I had shared between us in to sittings.
Now, she had no knowledge that the brownie even existed, but to dig it out of a secluded place and eat one of two “remaing pieces” takes some gall. And she couldn’t understand why we were upset, “it’s just a brownie”, even when we explained that it was our Christmas present, our only Christmas present to each other.
I have been feeling that O Henry’s “The Gifts of the Magi” has something to shed light on our predicament, but I am not sure quite how. There the gifts were valued by all in the story, as were the sacrifices. Here, someone is totally oblivious to the values of these items to us, even after having it fully explained to us.
I just know that it proves that we are dupes and patsies to give and give as freely as we do. These aren’t street panhandling, but people we get to know and try to invest in. They seem to appreciate, and seem to do better, and then they sock it to us somewhere, either obviously intentional, or totally oblivious. We try to be sensitive to their place and vulnerabilities and not take advantage of them or highlight their vulnerableness. They don’t seem to show the same grace.
I have learned that when you help people, but then say ” here and no farther. This is my stuff and I choose how to use it.” it makes you selfish and arrogant. At least in their eyes. But I don’t really care how I look in their eyes, if they don’t care about seeing things from my perspective as I try to see from theirs.
Rant rant rant. No, that is not what this is. I am looking for something stronger than a wet noodle to flagellate myself with so I don’t repeat these same mistakes. And these people are starting to find they cannot count on the same thing from me over and over again, that I expect change and response from them.