An Unexpected Gift

DSCN4067The bitter cold nipped through the layers of my coat, biting into my joints; a rare cold snap had swept over the mild West Coast, and people waddled like penguins in their warm layers. Inside the shelter of a train station carols hummed through speakers and dazzling holiday lights lined the window sills. I looked out at the swarms of shoppers scurrying along the sidewalks; in the midst of the chaos, I spotted a young girl with her dog, sitting on the ground against a bus stop. She huddled inside of a dark hoodie that could not keep out the bitter chill of the night. Her companion stayed close, a loyal partner to his unfortunate owner.

People skirted by her, rushed through her, callously kicking over her tiny cardboard asking for help to get to a hostel for the night. She didn’t engage with the people passing her, she didn’t thrust herself into their path asking for money; she simply waited, hoping for a kind offering. The trifling struggles I endured over the past year with old lady RA, vanished in the appalling circumstances of this tiny girl sitting in the bitter night, with nothing but a hoodie, her dog and an empty paper cup beside her.

I traipsed over to the local coffee stand, bought a hot cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll, and brought it to her; after I handed her the coffee, I held out a twenty-dollar bill. She looked at it, but did not reach for it, as she was afraid the touch of it might sting her. “Are you sure?” she whispered. I nodded; yes, I was sure.

No matter what my struggles have been, and may still be, against the unpredictable and troubling challenges of arthritis, I am fortunate to have a support system, a roof over my head, a place I can call home. I may not have much to give but this holiday season, I was able offer a small gesture to make someone feel human; and in that moment, she gave me the extraordinary gift of liberating me from the relentless pity of my disease.

Wishing everyone a warm and Happy Holiday season.

9 thoughts on “An Unexpected Gift

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  1. Merry Christmas Julia I was crying after reading your blog. The aches, the pains of everyday living pale in comparison when you see someone who has nothing and you can go home to warmth and love. Love Alison

  2. This made me cry to…in the past as a single mother trying to do it all I remember a woman gave me a card while I was at work…inside was money but no name it just said Merry Christmas to you and your kids…I never forgotten it…<3

  3. This story carries more impact simply by the virtue of it being read after the rush and chaos of the holiday season is over. It serves to remind us that there is no particular season for giving. And that in giving to others, we give so much more to ourselves.

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