“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
― Mother Teresa

As we pulled into the driveway, Janet looked at me and said “are we going to get shot?”  We were delivering Christmas hampers to families in our community who needed assistance at Christmas.  This was the first time Janet had delivered Christmas Hampers and she didn’t know what to expect.  I had been delivering hampers for a few years and I had experienced some tough situations.   In each of those situations you have to smile brightly, give them a hug and keep your eyes on the bigger picture, and that is the children.  In the midst of this chaos, there are children who are living in some tough emotional and financial conditions with absolute no control over their immediate future and those children need to feel unconditional love from the greater community as a whole.   In my experience, hamper recipients are usually families who are struggling to get by and Christmas puts too much extra pressure on them.  Christmas hampers relieves the extra burden from families and hopefully they can relax and enjoy the generosity and love of the Christmas season.  Jesus’ words were “Love one another as I have loved you” and as we celebrate Jesus’ birthday, we must branch out into our community and share his love with all.

Our society is riddled with images of success and in those images money, cars, beautifully decorated houses, consumer goods, clothes and electronics are images of success.   Those images actually have nothing to do with success and more to do with a lack of fulfillment in one’s daily life.  Success to me is not about money, or consumer goods but a life with love, faith, purpose, harmony, balance, happiness and hope.  I’ve come to realize that reaching out to others is not to extend your hand in pity, judgment or charity, rather it is a hand extended in compassion, empathy, hope and love.  When I go into someone’s house with gifts, I give those gifts out of pure joy and it is my hope as I extend my hand and hug people that they can feel the love and joy to the core of their being; their soul.

As Janet and I drove into the driveway, you could feel the tense and negative energy into the fibre of your being.  The house looked to be in very bad condition, but that wasn’t the source of the dark energy emitted from the house.  It was the darkness that surrounded the house and when we got out of the car, I realized right away the source of the darkness.    There was a group of men all standing off to a corner and when we got out of the car, they were not friendly or joyful,  they were scary.  In the years that I’ve delivered hampers, I’ve never encountered this.  I hate to use the word criminal element because that sounds very judgmental and I really don’t know if that was the case,  but that’s what it felt like.  When Janet looked at me and said very seriously; “are we going to get shot?” I understood why she felt that way.

As I opened my door, I noticed Janet wasn’t opening hers, she did not want to get out of the car.  I happened to look up into the house and through the front window I saw two boys between the ages of 5 and 8 jumping up and down and pointing to our car.  It was obvious they were excited to see us and I turned to Janet and I said “you need to keep your eyes on those two, that’s why were here”.  We unloaded all of the hamper bags and boxes and carried them to the house.  In every other situation where I’ve delivered hampers, the recipients always came out and gave me a hand in carrying the items.  Not these men, they just continued to stare us down as we walked to the front door.  I just ignored them but I could tell Janet was very uncomfortable.

We rang the doorbell and a slight, petite woman answered the door.  She wore her hair in a simple ponytail and she wore no makeup.  She had beautiful skin and very pretty eyes.  Her dress was casual; a sweater and a pair of tights, she looked like me if you came to my house on a Saturday morning as I love to lounge around in very comfortable clothes.  This resonated with me as we walked over her threshold and I gave her a hug and delivered the hampers.  Janet’s eyes lit up as the boys came running down the stairs jumping up and down as it was obvious they were happy to see us.  The boys’ spirits removed any of the darkness that we felt a few minutes earlier.  Children do that, they have a light that adults don’t have and it is my belief that we all have to go back to that light in order to fulfill our destiny as children are the true beacons of this world.

When we left the house, Janet mentioned to me that the woman was in a very bad situation and she had to leave that situation for the sake of her children.  I said to Janet “we don’t know her life and we can’t judge, but for all you know, the generosity and kindness of the hampers could be  the first step to give her strength to make a change, you don’t know, everything and anything is possible.”   Janet and I had several more hampers to deliver and I realized as we were unpacking the next recipient’s hamper that we missed several bags from the previous recipient.

Janet and I drove back to the house that emitted such darkness and this time Janet said to me, I’ve got this and she jumped out of the car, grabbed the bags and went to the front door.  She rang the bell and a few minutes later the boys’ mom answered the door and I could see that Janet was explaining why we were back.  Janet handed the mom the bags and she immediately placed the bags on the ground and leaned into Janet and gave her a huge hug and then the two of them were holding each other and there was an exchange of words going on between them.  I could tell they were both crying.  As Janet walked back to the car, she was wiping away the tears from her eyes and the woman at the front door gave me a wave as she closed the door.

Janet got into the car and wept.  When she calmed a bit I asked her what happened.  Janet said that the woman had gone through the hamper items and she was overwhelmed with the generosity of the community.  She said the hamper was so full that she had every thing she needed in food and gifts to give her children a Christmas she had never been able to give before.  She also told Janet from the bottom of her heart she was so thankful and wanted us to know just how thankful she was.

As we drove to the next recipient, Janet looked at me and said “you were right, we don’t know and we can’t judge and maybe,  just maybe the generosity and love from our community was the step she needed to gain strength to start a journey that will lead her away from the darkness, everything and anything is possible.”

*names changed to protect identity.