Child support was sketchy, my school teacher salary was stretched thin as saran-wrap, and it was Christmas. My main holiday concern = I didn’t want my children to feel uber-poor or deprived.
It took 12 months of saving and smart shopping to provide a small, conservative Christmas for my three children. There would be no frills, nothing extra. It was my first Christmas as a single parent and I was satisfied with our state of affairs.
Life in these early post-divorce months found me happier, healthier and more hopeful than I’d ever been. While evidence surrounded me of our meager means, I could feel the power of a fresh start. I believed with all my soul that the future would only get better, brighter from this point on.
I believed this in part to what I had been learning over the previous two years. Specifically I had been learning how to listen to myself, to distill what my truth was and to adhere to it despite the raging voices of dissent in my circle of influence. I learned about boundaries, emotional/verbal abuse, co-dependency, letting go and much, much more. Religious leaders, parents, neighbors, in-laws constantly begged me to “stay”. Yet after 10 years of eroding trust it felt more like they were saying “stay stuck” in a marriage that had become suffocating and toxic to me.
In those years there were two people who would sit with me and ask me questions. Question which supporting the concepts mention above. Rex and JoLyn even took me and my children into their home for a short spell when I needed a “safe house” to retreat to.
The powerful and compassionate influence from this couple ran deep in the months that precluded my separation and filing for divorce. Their wisdom, their appropriate methods of support eventually became less frequent and shorter. I had grown stronger and stronger, wiser and more independent over the past year.
I suppose this is the reason why I didn’t think of them when tiny gifts and goodies started showing up on my doorstep for the 12-Days of Christmas. My children, hoping to catch the phantom gift-givers would squeal with delight and run to the door anytime they heard someone there. The scanty scenario of our holiday was upgraded to “first-class” by this generous effort.
Later, when I discovered who had made us the target of generosity tears welled up and I remember distinctly stumbling through my words as I asked Rex and JoLyn – “Thank you so much. How can I ever repay you guys?”
They both put their hands on my arms and undauntedly replied, “You can’t. You won’t ever be able to. The way we have given to you has been a unique gift from our hearts to your heart. And while you can’t repay us, nor do we want you to, someday you’ll have a chance to do many gracious things for others. In that manner, that will be payment enough for us.”
Today as I sit and write this recount of occurrences from over fifteen years ago, I remember the various times when someone has placed their hand on my arm and said to me, “Thank you so much. How can I ever repay you?” To which I have borrowed from JoLyn and Rex my response – You can’t. You won’t ever be able to. The way I have given to you has been a unique gift from my heart to your heart. And while you can’t repay me, nor do I want you to, someday you’ll have a chance to do many gracious things for others. In that manner, that will be payment enough.”