Jenny’s* husband lost his job today. She collapsed in my kitchen chair while we both cried and I offered lame assurances that, “He’ll find something else soon. I know he will.”
But no words can erase the stress of being jobless with four kids and a mortgage and Christmas only weeks away.
What can I do for her? How can I help her? Thankfully, since she’s my neighbor– quite a lot. I can be her friend.
We were all horrified by the trampling death in NY on Black Friday. I believe the nation went onto collective mourning for Jdimytai Damour because it felt so wrong, so WRONG for anyone to lose their life over video games and big-screen TVs in this season where kindness should be at the top of every gift list.
I recall Paul’s counsel. “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” And though I buy the most fabulous gifts and though I wear myself out shopping and can’t be nice to the person next to me, it profiteth me nothing.
Joseph Smith once said, “The great grand principle of the gospel is friendship.” And this year, more than ever, I want to be a friend to everyone I meet. Take my parking spot at the mall; I’ll find another. No worries if the checker messes up my transaction; I can smile and laugh and sympathize while she fixes the problem. I simply can’t shop and wrap presents for all the wonderful people in my path but I can offer patience, hand out compliments and extend the benefit of the doubt.
Several years ago our bishop suggested that instead of distributing gifts throughout the neighborhood that we contribute money to a collective service project. “We all love each other, ” he declared, “let’s just give each other a hug or a handshake and put our money towards people who truly need it.” It’s been a wonderful system. Besides saving the women(always the women) a lot of fuss trying to deliver presents to dozens of homes and fretting over forgotten friends, our collective contributions have replenished the food pantry, dug wells in Africa and put shoes on calloused feet.
This year, I’m especially grateful for our communal gift. For the many people in my neighborhood who are out of work or simply struggling, there is no pressure to “keep up.” Everyone gives generously whether their donation is $200 or $2. Because no matter how small the amount– it’s full of love for our neighbors. And that’s priceless.
*not her real name 😉