For me, 2018 has been an epic year. My wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary, I sold my business, and decided to pursue my passion of telling the story of my journey to school aged children.
The holiday season is always a time of reflection for all of us. This year a friend of mine made the following Facebook post:
“When you actually like buying people gifts for Christmas and not really in position to it sucks! Even after the 'ohh I understand, you don't have to get me anything' it still sucks!! Family and friends who I usually buy for, I apologize in advance, but my bills and payment schedules just aren’t meshing with the 25th this year we will catch y’all a little later and I hope the gift still feels the same!”
This post took me back to a time in my life, as a poor teenager, who didn’t want anyone to know we were poor.
My mother went to the dollar store and purchased $.99 boxes of chocolate covered cherries as Christmas gifts for her friends. She wrapped them with love and hand delivered each of them, traveling several hundred miles through the mountains and coal towns of southwest Virginia, over the course of one day.
I can remember the shame and embarrassment I felt. I thought, it’s $.99 chocolate covered cherries, no one wants this for Christmas. Why are we delivering such a terrible gift?
Obviously, I was focused on the price of the gift and not the value. That focus was because of my insecurities of being poor.
As I have gotten older and more mature, I have learned that this was the best type of gift. These $.99 chocolate covered cherries didn’t come from the dollar store, they came from the heart and filled with love.
I was 14 or 15 when I learned the lesson that we all have heard for our entire lives, "it’s better to give than receive."
Over the past several years, I have learned to embrace my journey and the experiences along the way. There was nothing to be ashamed about then and I try to share my stories to let others know that their situation isn’t something to be ashamed of either.
When I read my friends post the memories and emotions came flooding back. I shared the story of the chocolate covered cherries with him and let him know how proud I was that he decided to share his situation publicly, as this is something that 15 year old Michael could have never done.