'Tis the Season of Humble Pie

Today a student asked what I might get for Christmas. Our family stopped gathering at the holidays for large gift-giving celebrations years ago. Sometimes my sister surprises me with a present in the mail. This week it arrived marked “Don’t open until Christmas.” I won’t. Opening a gift at the holidays is rare and I treasure it. 

I found myself a bit sad as I tried to brush off the importance of gifts and holiday traditions as my pupil questioned me more. I almost started to feel sorry for myself—a longing for Santa and all of the family gifts.
Tonight there was a rare knock at my door. A student who lives on my block asked if I could take him to Wal-mart to pick-up his sisters. I was aware the family was going through some tough times as the same boy had asked to use my phone when theirs was disconnected. Yet, his situation seemed a bit ridiculous. My intuition said to take him and my imagination argued my house would be stripped clean while we were gone. Who walks across town when it is this cold?
His family does, apparently. The store was a couple of miles away. His sisters sat inside the store waiting with little more than a thin unzipped hoodie over their school clothes. I hadn’t met the twins. In fact, I did not know he had twin sisters. They opened up a bit as we drove. They talked excitedly of their youngest toddler showing pictures from their cell phones and spoke frankly of their need to walk since there was no car. None of them had coats, hats, boots, gloves, or scarves. “We’re used to the cold. We walk everywhere,” the girls said. 
When I moved back to Indiana from Arizona, the only winter coat I had was an old ski jacket. What would I have done without it in the winter? Black Friday sales this year helped me score a new long coat with a fur hood. With it I added a pretty scarf even though I really didn’t need one more scarf. I nearly bought new gloves just to have them, but the ones I own are wearing well. New boots were a must as the cats perfumed my old pair.
As I dropped off the kids and all of their bags, I waited for a thank you—any kind of show of appreciation. The girls didn’t make a sound or even nod a head. As the boy crossed the alley, he looked back and said, “Thanks, Ms. Knarr.” 
I opened the door to find my home changed. All I owned seemed unnecessary. Seeing the large box from my sister made me glad to know someone cared enough to give me something to unwrap, but what would those seven children receive this Christmas? 
Monday the guidance counselor and I will have a long talk about the family. From this moment forward, I will not look at that student the same way again. He opened my heart to a greater need—one right across the alley. My momentary sadness seemed selfish as I was served a slice of Humble Pie.

Learn more about storytelling at www.carolknarr.com.