It was 10 degrees here in Grays Harbor last night. Our lake is frozen most of the way across into a beautiful glasslike crystal sheet of ice (teasing the children to try to ice skate on it although they are FORBIDDEN to attempt that or even go near it.) We're not used to these record lows around here. Car batteries are refusing to cooperate, tons of people's wells are frozen, and the local economy is getting stimulated as people are forced to buy deicer, antifreeze, and long underwear. Oh yeah, and a lady slept in her car outside of my house last night.
I obviously already knew that there were countless homeless people suffering in this weather. I just made a casual comment to the kids about how I was worried about those people without warm shelter just the other day. None of them were in front of my house though (yet.) Everything's always more personal & real when it's right in your own front yard. This morning, when I got up to get the kids off to school, I noticed a car parked outside. Not a big deal. It happens. A little while later though, the hazard lights came on & I realized that there was somebody in that car. So, I sent Dustin out to see if they needed help. He brought back a lady that was shivering violently. Her lips & fingers purplish-blue. She had a small fleece throw, a lightweight jacket, and a cast on her arm. She had let her car run to stay warm until she had run out of gas.
I set her up with a blanket & hot cocoa while Dustin went to town to get gas for her car. She seemed like a really nice lady. She made conversation with the kids as I hurried around getting them ready for school. The part that really hit me hard wasn't so much that she had to sleep in her car, it was the fact that as I got the kids ready, tears came to her eyes as she repeatedly said, "I used to do this with my kids." Tatton was getting all dressed up for his field trip to The Nutcracker & this lady told him about how she also went on a field trip to The Nutcracker in Seattle with her daughter's class years ago. I was reminded once again of just how much I really have to be thankful for that I so often take for granted. My kids were sitting at our dining room table wolfing down cheerios, hats and gloves at the ready for when they would leave the comfort of our 70 degrees home to board the school bus and go off to a day of learning & enrichment. Our needs were met. We were better than okay, great even.
I've caught myself feeling Scrooge-like & cranky several times over the last few weeks with Dustin laid off as the Holidays approach all too quickly. I keep trying to remember to focus on the Holiday traditions that bring family togetherness instead of stressing about getting every little thing on the kids' monstrous gimme-lists. It's easy to get caught up in the cycle of materialism and greed though. This morning, I remembered something: The best part of the Holidays is giving. I suggest that we all find a way to reach out to others this season.