Run | Laugh | Eat | Repeat

What Is the Season of Giving?

on December 16, 2013

I always hear great stories about people doing random acts of kindness, giving generously, or donating above and beyond to make a difference in someone’s life. I’m always so touched and inspired by them, and so thankful that this world is full of good people. Today while I was going for a long run on the greenway, I had my own chance to make a difference.

I stopped at one of the pavilion restrooms along the way, and the first thing I saw when I walked in was a pair of shoes and someone’s legs laying on ground. I pulled out my phone in total panic thinking someone had passed out or died, getting ready to call 911, but then I saw a little movement and realized it was a homeless woman sleeping. On the floor of a bathroom on the greenway, trying to stay warm.

I tried to be quiet and fast so I didn’t bother her. I was nervous. I don’t know what I was afraid of, but I was a little bit scared that she would wake up and confront me. But as I left and continued to think about her for the rest of my run, I realized I was being an idiot. She was just trying to get some warmth. Plus, how many times have I gone running on that greenway, even getting caught in the dark many more times that I would have liked, and never once been bothered by anyone?

(Side note: I don’t support going running on the greenway in the dark. Every time I accidentally end up 3 miles from my car while it’s getting dark, it makes me nervous and I run with my senses alert and my key in my fist ready to fight back if anyone were to try to attack me. Don’t follow my example and just avoid that situation completely.)

All I could think about for the rest of my run was that that woman in the bathroom is someone’s daughter. Someone’s sister. Someone’s best friend. Maybe even someone’s mom or grandma.

So as soon as I was done, I went and bought some hot chocolate at Thornton’s, scribbled a quick note “it’s too cold today not to have hot chocolate”, and went back to that bathroom. I slipped them and my CLIF bar under the stall and ran away.

But I’m not writing this to brag about my act of kindness. I’m writing this because I was bothered at my own thoughts when I said to myself “It’s Christmas. It’s the season of giving!”

Immediately after I thought that, a little voice in my head said “Would you be doing this if it wasn’t Christmas?”

I like to think that I would. I love to help and bring joy to other people. But at the same time, I would probably have a million excuses why I couldn’t. Such as the fact that I was so hungry on that run that I had to stop several times because I thought I was going to pass out, and I still had plenty of shopping to do before I would get home to eat again. I could have used that CLIF bar. Or the fact that I am an unpaid intern with broken-down-car expenses to pay for every other month. Sometimes I have to figure out how to live on $4 of gas money for a week. I can always use an extra dollar or two. And yet, I pass homeless people asking for help or trying to sell the paper all the time thinking I don’t have anything to give, and then go to Camino that same day and spend that dollar or two (that I “don’t have”) on a margarita.

But it’s Christmas. It’s the Season of Giving.
What IS the Season of Giving?

I don’t have the answer. I don’t have an inspirational speech or a challenge to give everyone, like do three good deeds everyday. It’s just something to think about. Have we confined the act of giving to a season? I don’t know, maybe we haven’t. Maybe it’s just me. Like I said, I do hear of great stories all the time, and it’s not just around this time of year. But in most cases, I would guess that when all the Christmas stories and songs and movies about joy and giving and loving others are gone, it’s a little bit easier to pass a homeless person on the greenway and think “Sorry, I’m really broke and I’m hungry. I wish I could help but I need my CLIF bar.”

Let’s make life the season of giving. In the words of Buddy the Elf, “Treat everyday like Christmas!”

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