Christmas is sometimes an embarrassment of riches.
The kids pretty much get everything the ask for, and then some. We eat lobster for dinner and drink champagne for lunch. My husband and I have trouble shopping for each other, because really, we want for nothing.
We are fortunate. This figurative fortune is a result of my hard-working and clever husband who scratches and claws through a cut-throat industry every week so that we can have food on our table and clothes on our backs. It’s not lobster every day, and we don’t wear designer stuff. But we are grateful for what we have, and grateful for my husband and his job.
He starts a new job with the new year. The company sent him all his equipment to set up his office here. Part of the ensemble is a fancy-schmancy VOIP phone for conference calls, etc that ties right into the company’s phone system. He even has his own toll-free number. It has to run through our cable lines, of which there are none up in his office, so that’s another “Honey Do” project for him. Until he gets that line run, the fancy-schmancy phone sits smack dab in the middle of one of our main rooms.
It rings all day and all night.
“Can you shut that thing off?” I growled at one point.
My husband said he’d rather we heard it and went on to explain. Turns out, the 800# that the company allocated to him they only recently acquired. It previously had belonged to the government.
It was a Food Stamps hotline.
So, no. We won’t be turning off the ringer. All Christmas Eve, and all day long Christmas Day, that phone would sit in the corner, quietly “jingling” every hour or so. Reminding us of our good fortune. Reminding us that there are people out there who are calling about Food Stamps on Christmas Eve.
The kids would look up from their toys, sigh, and say “I feel bad.” I’d remind them of all the things they donated over the past year during the various charity efforts at their schools, the money from the “fun run”, the canned food drives. But still.
We do our part. But we could probably do more. I blithely send off stuff for “Toys for Tots,” give my spare change to “Pennies for Ponies,” generously fill a bag for every canned food drive, donate our “gently used” clothing to the CCA, drop some coins in the Salvation Army kettle. But I rarely think about the people. Every time I heard the “jingle” of that new phone, I tried to imagine a family in need. Calling about Food Stamps on Christmas Eve. How it would feel.
We all need reminding now and then. While the “jingle bells” of that fancy-schmancy phone remind me to live in gratitude, gratitude is not enough – it feels selfish. We need compassion. We need to be remined that even on Christmas Eve, despite the efforts of what I believe is a fairly giving society, there are still people out there who don’t just want, they need. We need to do more.
The universe works in amazing and amusing ways. I am grateful that my husband has a job, but the universe found a way to remind us through our good fortune the value of compassion.
When she's not chauffeuring over-scheduled children or procrastinating about the housework, Pam can be found scratching her head in her garden, making a giant mess in her kitchen, channeling her inner redneck, or sneaking off for a bubble bath with a fat novel. Her monotonous adventures are chronicled in painful detail here.