This week Billy and I realized that we didn’t get presents for the girls yet. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. We (and when I say “we” I mean Billy and his dad) are working on a project for the girls, which I will post about some other time. Other than that, we didn’t have any gifts.
So I took advantage of a day without the kids yesterday and set out to get gifts. I had a fantastic shopping experience (no sarcasm here). I went to Michaels (I know, I said I wasn’t allowed back in craft stores) and had the loveliest conversation with one of the employees about how to complete a project I was working on for Lucy (that will be a different post, as well). She was incredibly genuine.
Later I was at the Dollar Store and there were huge lines. I thought it was a bit weird for lunchtime on a Friday, but oh well, nothing I could do but wait. When it was my turn, I starting joking with the cashier and he said, “You are such a good customer!” I suppose that’s what happens when you have worked in customer service, you realize how hard it is, especially during the holiday season.
I went home feeling pretty good about my day. I thought the girls would really enjoy the gifts. I didn’t come home an angry shopper.
I sat down for a quick break before all the wrapping and checked the computer. I think we all know the headline that was glaring at me. Another senseless tragedy.
Of course, there were lots of people posting about this on facebook. One status update in particular struck me, “I can’t even begin to imagine one of them (her kids) not being here this Christmas to open their gifts.”
I think it was so powerful because I had just shopped for gifts for my ladies. What if I had returned from shopping, only to learn that my kids were gone?
I can’t go there.
I feel like I have posted before about how there is no meaning in this kind of tragedy (here and here to be exact). We search for explanations, but we will never really have one.
It’s hard to find comfort in these types of situations.
I’ve noticed another facebook post that has been floating around the past couple of days. It is a picture of Mr. Rogers with an old quote from him:
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world.
Yesterday, and on many other days marked by tragedy, there are always helpers. Helping is their first response. They don’t weigh the consequences. They simply act.
That does bring some comfort. Some constant in this unknown. You will always find people helping.
But in the dark of night, when I am awake thinking of the weight of the world, unnecessarily taking on that burden (once again) what is there to provide comfort? Gratitude. Gratitude for all that I have in my own world. Gratitude for the warm kittens sleeping down the hall. Gratitude for the man sleeping next to me, stealing the covers. Gratitude for the host of friends and family in my life. Gratitude for all the blessings.
I suppose there is something to the old song. Just count your blessings instead of sheep.
Important life lessons are often simple.
Be a helper.
Seek out gratitude.
And I will add another…pray (or send good thoughts or whatever it is that you do.)