I spent today, Christmas, in San Francisco volunteering with City Impact. They are a non-denominational Christian organization that ministers to people in the heart of the Tenderloin. It was their goal this morning to provide 2000 hot meals to the city’s most destitute souls and I decided a week ago or so that I wanted to be part of it. I didn’t know anything about City Impact. I just googled to find someplace that I could volunteer, but it looks like I stumbled upon a very well-run charity with their hearts in the right place. Before you think I deserve a pat on the back for this, I did this as much for myself as for any of those in need. I don’t mean that this was merely self-serving, because my heart is also in the right place. I just mean that I needed to get outside of my own head and do something to remind myself that things really aren’t that bad. We sometimes feel sorry for ourselves, or at least I can admit that I do, and I felt it was time for an attitude adjustment. Just the walk from where I parked my car, through the streets of this neighborhood was a very good reminder of all I have to be thankful for.
I got up at the crack of dawn, put on my jeans and three layers of t-shirts, two long sleeved and one short sleeved, my sneakers and a warm coat and off I went. I had a feeling that I was going to get dirty. I didn’t know if that would mean I would be outside in the rain delivering meals or working in the kitchen, but I figured either way, I would get dirty. So I skipped the shower, put on a hat and didn’t bother with makeup. It was amazing how many volunteers did the opposite. There were many in their finery, with jewels to boot! I didn’t really get that, but who am I to judge? They were there to help, just like me. I admit to laughing a bit to myself when one woman asked for an apron. So my duty was meal prep and I was assigned to be a runner. I guess it is good that I am a runner because that is pretty much what I did. I ran food from the kitchen to the assembly line tables, ran empty pans back to the kitchen, ran banana boxes full of the meals to the hallway where it would be collected by the volunteers delivering and then ran empty boxes back to the assembly workers. I ran for five hours and I did get dirty, indeed. I ate four cookies and a bag of cheetos during that time, on the fly. The mission was accomplished. There were over 2200 meals delivered. About 500 of those were served at the park down the street, where families could also pick up toys for their kids, and the remainder were delivered to homes and homeless shelters. Also in the midst of all of this, bags of groceries were also delivered.
I had not really been looking forward to the holidays. Circumstances are what they are in my life, much different than they have been in the past. I just wanted to skip Christmas. If I had expendable cash lying around, I would have taken a trip to someplace very warm and toasted Christmas with a bartender on the beach, but that was a fantasy. I saw a blurb on the news about volunteers being needed on Christmas and at the time didn’t give it much thought. But when I woke up the next morning and started pondering the holidays further, I thought of that news blurb and decided I wanted to take myself to San Francisco on Christmas morning to do my own little small part. The hurdle was the woman that gave birth to me. She is already worried about me. The changes in my life have caused her concern and she doesn’t always agree with my choices. I think my choices make sense, at least today they do, but I do understand her concern. I’m a mother too, so I try to be very sensitive to her worries. Christmas day was supposed to be spent with Mom and Dad. My son would be with his new in-laws, so I wasn’t going to be able to see him and my daughter-in-law, but in thinking about that, I came up with a brilliant plan. Let’s just postpone Christmas one day! First I had to be sure my kids would be around because they were part of the plan. If they were available the next day, then we could ALL be together! They were and so my plan worked, though not without a little trepidation from my mother, which is understandable. “You’re going to do what?” she asked, “Volunteer, Mom. That is a good thing,” I said.
No, I did not skip Christmas, nor did I really postpone it. Christmas was all around me today. I had wanted to be assigned to deliver the meals because I wanted to see the faces of those who’s lives were being touched by the spirit of giving, but even that is a little selfish. Somebody had to run, so I ran. It was a good day. Now I am going to take a much needed shower and have dinner with one of my very best girlfriends because her kids have gone to their Dad’s house and she’s alone too, and tomorrow I will have another Christmas with my family.
Wishing you and yours the very, very best today and always.