Dear Neighbor in the City,
I want to take a moment to write to you about the charitable work that you are about to embark on this holiday season. I feel it is important to share with you some concerns I have about food, gifts, and other items you feel is your duty or demonstration of grace to give to me and my family in the next two months.
We have had a very hard three years in the city. I have done my best to find work. From time to time I have had the opportunity to get some odd jobs and even some factory work. But as hard as I worked, I was told my services were no longer needed, the job quota had been filled, or "We are reducing your hours." Let me tell you, it is pretty hard to come home and tell my wife that I was let go. I see the disappointment and anger in her face as she simply goes outside, sits on the porch, and smokes a cigarette.
We had a home. Our two year old and seven year old each had their own rooms but the landlord had to go up on the rent so we had to settle for this two bedroom apartment. The bedrooms are small, the neighbors are extremely noisy, and the police are constantly in our area. One day my seven year old asked me, "Daddy, are we bad people...because the police are always in our neighborhood?" Well what do I tell my son? This is all I can afford between the odd jobs. I would love to give more but when you have little to nothing to give, what then?
Now the holidays are coming and let me tell you this is when it gets hard. Dented canned goods. Out of date meat. Bruised fruit and vegetables. I don't know about you, but I find it very hard to feel blessed as I am given a box of these items to take home with a "God bless you" and a smile. I wonder if this nice lady would take this home to her own family or would she complain?
"Should I complain? No, if I complain, I'll seem ungrateful. I'll just take what I get and go away."
See I don't understand how I receive used and broken items, outdated, dented, and bruised food. I know I am in need of help but my poor condition should not necessitate a poorly conditioned response. I hope that your giving of used and poor items to people like me does not mean we are less deserving.
I remember my grandmother used to tell me a story about God and how he gave his very best. I asked my grandmother, "Why did he do that?" Grandma looked me in the eyes and said, "Because he loves us son."
These holidays and these poor gifts don't remind me of love because grandma taught me when the best is given I know that I am loved.
So please, before you give away those stained clothes, out of date fruit, or incomplete games to families like mine this year, please consider giving the best gift in love.
A Father in Hard Times.