Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Christmas Shovel

In which our Heroine makes a Mistake, and then gets Another Chance.

This year for Christmas Jon and I decided we would like to do the “Twelve Days of Christmas” thing for a family in our church ward.  Long story short: we had trouble finding the address and then wondered if maybe they were leaving town anyway (because this couple’s children are in another state right now—and although I don’t know the situation, I thought they might be able to go see them).  Laziness took over from there.  On Christmas Eve, I wondered if they’d had enough money to buy each other gifts.  I considered dropping off some cash or something—just a card even.  But I forgot.  When I saw one of the people in the family on Sunday at church, I could have kicked myself hard.  I had failed to follow through on a prompting to help someone.  So much for surviving cancer because I had a purpose in life.  Gharrrgh!  I made a resolution to do better next time.

Fortunately, God is merciful.

Not twenty minutes ago, a family of four came to my door and asked to shovel my driveway.  They said they would take any donation at all, even small, as they were losing their house soon.  Here’s the thing.  I never let any of the neighbor kids shovel our driveway.  They ask for a whopping 20 bucks and I’ve learned that they do a substandard job most of the time.  It’s not like Jon and I are rolling in the dough.  But tonight, as stood at my chilly front door (13 degrees Fahrenheit), I looked behind the father I saw a little girl bundled up in a pink snow suit with a shovel, and this time I couldn’t say no. 

I wandered into the kitchen to the sound of shovels banging and snow being crunched outside my house.  What would I pay them?  I took down our supply of “just in case” cash.  I kept it in a poinsettia-decorated card/money folder from a 2009 Christmas present from my brother Mike.  I spread the money out on the counter-top.  My initial plan was to go with a 20, but then I thought, “I’ll pray about it.”  Along with the prayer, I had the duel thought of: “I need this money.  What if they use it unwisely? Or what if they’re not even telling me the truth?” 

I did not get a sure answer from my prayer.  But I did have the thought that generosity never goes awry for the giver, regardless of what these unknowns would use the money for.  I remembered that last year, someone very anonymous generously gave my family some cash, and I felt so loved.  Surely, I could do the same? 

I pulled the twenty in front of me—no, not enough.  I made it thirty.  (Sigh)  Fifty. Fifty-eight.  Yikes.  In one quick motion I grabbed the hundred (with Ben Franklin smirking at me on the front) and threw another fifty into my brother’s old Christmas envelope.  It still had his handwriting on it: “This packs better for the plane! LOL”

“It’s okay,” I told myself, “You still have a few minutes to decide whether to really do this.” Hah.  The doorbell rang almost as soon as I had the thought.  So I went with it.  I gave the guy the envelope and he left.  But I didn’t.  I closed the door and crouched on the bench by the skinny front window.  When the huge snow bank got between my view and their car, I stood on the bench.  Then I had to leap off really fast because all at once the whole family came running out of their sedan and back to my front door. 

They were all smiles when I nonchalantly answered a while later.  They told me I really made a difference.  Wow, I felt so good as I learned their names (Tyler, Lila, etc, and etc), and let them know that I wished them well.  

Ooooh (shiver-happy).  Warm and fuzzy.  I still feel so warm and fuzzy!  Somebody wipe this idiot grin off my face.  I’m telling you, these people gave me the Christmas gift of all time.  Now wish me luck explaining what I’ve done to my husband when he gets home from Scouts.    


  1. Tara you are amazing, you had both Curtis and I in tears.

  2. Jon says, that's because Curtis is a crybaby.

  3. You are amazing, this story just prooves that When we put Christ in Christmas we are blessed with not just happiness, butt JOY. Good for you!!!

  4. I love that feeling you get when you stretch yourself and give more generously! You are so awesome!

  5. Reason 979 why I love you and I want to be your friend. Beautiful post. Merry Christmas!

  6. What a beautiful story! I agree with Teri that serving Christ blesses us with happiness, but I'm not so sure about "butt joy" LOL :-)

  7. Ha ha ha ha John might be right :)