This time of year we all get so busy with the holidays,that certain things happen and it really makes us sit back and reflect, and think about the real meaning of the season. I had one of those moments last weekend when my mother-in-law came over and told us about something she did a few weeks ago.
She was heading to the grocery store and saw a lady on the side of the road near the store with a sign that said "laid off, two kids at home, need help"... We all see those people with their signs, and it's hard because you never know who actually needs help and who's doing it to pay for their drug/alcohol addiction. Something about this woman drew my mother-in-law's attention, and after she parked her car, she walked over to her and just started having a conversation. If you've met my mother-in-law, you know that she's got a very strong personality and with her thick french accent, you may not understand what she's saying some of the time.
She began to talk to the woman, found out she was laid off from Walmart, has two kids, and was so embarrassed to be standing with a sign in front of the grocery store but was doing whatever she could for her children. She said that she was near Safeway earlier and they told her she couldn't be in front of their store, so she went to another store where they didn't seem to mind. My mother-in-law finally asked her, "so what exactly do you need help with?" The lady replied, "I really just need to be able to feed my kids. With my rent and utilities, I have very little money left over to pay for food." My mother-in-law said, "well, I'm not going to give you any money, but let's go inside and get you some groceries." They both went inside, my mother-in-law had a cart, and told the lady to get one for herself and they walked through the store. Some of the conversations went like this:
MIL: "Do your children like fruit?"
Lady: "Yes, but it's too expensive."
MIL: "That's not what I asked, do they like fruit?"
Lady: "Oh, yes. They do."
(MIL puts some fruit in the lady's cart)
MIL: "Do you eat meat?"
Lady: "Sometimes, when we can."
MIL: "Well, what kind of meat do you like?"
Lady: "Chicken, pork, whatever is the least expensive."
MIL: "Is there any kind of meat you would like to have but haven't had in a while?"
Lady: "A turkey would be very nice, because it would last a long time, but they're always so expensive, we can never afford it"
MIL: "Let's get a turkey and we'll have the butcher cut it in half so you can freeze one half of it"
They continued to go through the store, getting all sorts of food. Peanut butter, bread, vegetables, pasta, and even a couple boxes of cake mix for the kids. The lady continued to thank my MIL as she kept putting things in her cart. By the time they got to the cash register, the lady's cart was full. My MIL paid for the food, and the woman was so grateful. As they were walking outside, my MIL asked her, "how are you getting all of this home?" The lady said, "well, I have some extra money so I'm going to take the bus, normally I would walk, but I think it would be easier to take the bus with all of these groceries." My mother-in-law couldn't fathom the idea of this lady carrying all of the groceries on a bus so she asked her, "well where do you live?" The lady ended up living in an apartment that was on my MIL's way home, so she said "I'll just take you home, that will be much easier." Although, I'm sure my MIL would've driven across town to get this lady home.
When they got to her house, the lady continued to thank her for the groceries and for being so nice to her. The lady told her children my MIL bought all of the groceries, and the children gave her a big hug and thanked her. One of the kids said "thank you so much, now I won't go to bed hungry tonight." The woman was so grateful, the kids were grateful, and my mother in law left with a full heart.
When my MIL got home, she couldn't stop crying. She felt so good about being able to do something like this for a family in need, but felt so sad at the same time that there are so many other families out there who won't have food on the table for Christmas, and who have kids that go to bed hungry at night. It's unfortunate that it takes something like this to make you sit back and reflect, but it really put things into perspective for me, and I have a whole new appreciation, not only for my MIL, but for my family in general this time of the year.