Now we have a president who is asking us – and showing us – how to give of ourselves.
I am reminded of the time my friend Clare and I decided to "give of ourselves." We had been talking about it for years and finally decided that this time we would help out at a homeless shelter. My kids, after all, would be with their father that Thanksgiving, and her kids were grown.
We convinced a local shelter to allow us to cook Thanksgiving dinner for the residents. Though we were told it wasn't necessary, we pushed and we pushed until finally the woman relented.
Clare would play piano for the residents while they looked on, forgetting their troubles, and I would supply each of them with one of my newly made t-shirts that said, "I think; therefore I am...a woman." We would find joy in the giving.
That Thanksgiving morning, Clare and I arrived with turkey, tons of vegetables, the makings for stuffing, and desserts. When we arrived, three of the families left so they could share the holiday with relatives.
What? Relatives? Why were they living in a homeless shelter?
The two families that stayed behind mostly ignored us while we set about finding pots and pans. By the time we started peeling potatoes, the last two families left.
And so, there we were, two woman sitting in a homeless shelter eating Thanksgiving dinner alone.
I called Clare when I got home to ask if she was watching what I was watching on television. There they were, thousands of homeless people standing in lines at local shelters while helpers spooned potatoes and stuffing onto plates.
And then I remembered I had left behind my box of t-shirts. When I went back to the shelter to retrieve them, I discovered the residents had taken them so they could use them as Christmas presents.
Well, at least somebody was wearing them.
Did our experience stop us from giving? Of course not. Probably only one one-thousandth of one percent of all people who give of themselves find that nobody is around to receive what they are giving. Clare and I fall into that group. Thank you, PRESIDENT (as of today) Barack Obama, for reminding me that giving is joyous (and sometimes funny)!