This week has been extremely hectic. I usually find time to sit in front of the computer in the evenings and browse my favorite sites on the internet. I'll watch a DVR'ed show or two with my husband, especially cozy now that the weather is much cooler and we can put a fire in the fireplace. But this week was different.
The holidays sometimes are the most difficult for some of the students I work with on a daily basis. Coming from a stable and loving home growing up, it's hard for me to relate to kids who'd rather be at school than spend time at home for Thanksgiving. It's tragic that some feel they have absolutely nothing to be thankful for. At all. Others have so much but feel lost. One of our families will be burying their son tomorrow. This young man felt life was hopeless and absolutely gave up on Thanksgiving eve.
I know that particular holiday is behind us now, but Christmas will be here in the blink of an eye. I will enjoy all the goofy traditions we've had as a family (who will unwrap the present that travels from one person to another each year and after 10 years we STILL don't know what the heck it is?) and I will continue to find joy in everything holiday-ish, but I will make a conscious effort to make others' lives better - even in a small way. I'm not a saint by any stretch of the imagination, but how hard could it really be?
As I was standing out on lunch supervision yesterday, eyeing the small parking lot and making sure that kids weren't escaping to the local McDonald's, an obviously homeless man rode his bike down the sidewalk. It was piled high with small boxes and bags of bottles and cans. He hit a bump and everything went crashing to the ground. He began the laborious chore of trying to gather things up and re-pack his bike. With a little more compassion than I can usually muster, I got a large plastic garbage bag from the custodian and took it to the man. As I handed it to him, I noticed the tattoos on his outstretched hand, his dirty clothing, his messy hair, his slurred and somewhat undiscernable response to my offer... and also that he was young. Same age as my daughter or close enough. How much effort did it take for me to respond that way rather than to find humor in another's misfortune?
So, with all the situations that my colleagues and I have faced this week - a suicide, a candlelight vigil, a parent's grief, a fight between two rival gang members, a police chase that ended on our campus, a soon-to-be-a-father sixteen year old dealing with life choices - what can I do to make the world a better place? Not much really in the big scheme of things... but it started for me on that day with the plastic garbage bag. I'm hoping I can continue to contribute something each day. Will keep you posted....