Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Partridge in a Bare Tree

On the fifth day before Christmas, I loaded my truck to "give". Home-made wreaths were snuggled in the bed, teddy bears and dolls filled a big bag, and Christmas cassette tapes lined a basket. Yes, I was going to give all this away, but mind you, most of it was left-over. The wreaths were no-sells from my sale (see blog post below: A Tribute to Old Blue), the stuffed animals were like-new garage sale discards, and the Christmas music cassettes were replaced by CDs. No skin off my back except for the time I put into making the wreaths, a few supplies, and some bucks dropped at garage sales last summer.

I didn't know where I was going with this load except that I was thinking about people who had health issues piled on top of economic woes. The road I live on in the suburbs heads straight into the inner-city. The 12 miles should have been an easy drive, but I was feeling very uneasy. Where am I going? Why do I think people in the city would want these wreaths? Why am I afraid? Why do I feel foolish? Why in hell is it so hard to give to people that I am feeling something for? The only thing I liked about the drive was its sense of adventure.

Nearly a half-hour down the road I noticed a building with big letters on its side, something like Family Health Center. I turn into the parking lot thinking this is a really stupid idea. There weren't many cars in the lot and I didn't see a single person. Why am I here? "OK, just pull up in front of the entrance," something was directing me. "Now, get out of the truck," it persisted while I wanted to hide. So now what? There is still nobody around. "OK, walk around to the back end of the truck and put down the gate." I followed these silly directions while it seemed like I was the only person outdoors in the whole city that winter day.

Whoa!! The gate came down and the people came out... from buildings, cars, and taxi-cabs. I invited them to select a wreath assuring them that they were free. As they reached into the truck to pick out their personal favorite, I was stunned with their pleasure. In the urban greyness, these coils twisted with branches from my dying spruce tree and adorned with big red bows, looked magnificent; 100 times better than they had in my wooded suburban yard. These simple rings entwined with prickly spruce needles curved the complex, worried creases out of the recipients' faces and weaved them into awe-struck smiles. Meanwhile, the stuffed animals were shuffled through, finding new homes in the arms of gleeful young caregivers. I felt like Santa when a woman in a well-worn coat and missing her two front teeth came straight up to me with a specific request, "Do you have Oh Holy Night with no singing, just the music?" I filled her wish with a cassette tape that hadn't been played for years at home. In 10 minutes, even before the security guards arrived to see what was the flurry, everything was gone, gone in a hurry. How much easier can giving get?

What about receiving? Sometimes I feel hesitant about receiving---especially in accumulating more unnecessary stuff, and gifts perhaps given out of obligation. The parking lot wreath exchange was different. I joyfully accepted the unexpected robust hugs, the "God bless you, ma'am!" and "Merry Christmas" wishes. These givers waited in line, and I am not kidding you, to give me hugs! I made an enormous haul at this gift exchange.

So with the last bit of green from a dying, half-naked Blue Spruce tree, I drove myself into the scary woods of urbanocity. It was a poorly planned adventure, but very enriching. That's where true love gave to me......and I saw a partridge in a bare tree.