Chewing Tar and Being Charitable

#AugustMoon14, Day 12:
What do people thank you for? How do you surprise and delight other people?

9de5953a923bdd9fd9712c6c0f104728I squirm with questions like these. Anyone who truly knows me would confirm how much discomfort I feel in receiving attention or any other sort of recognition. For anything. I like to quietly go about my day and business, do stuff and live my life. It takes a great deal of effort to appear outgoing and extroverted. In reality, I am happiest when nobody notices me at all. And so, actually having to purposely highlight myself like this makes me extraordinarily uncomfortable. In fact, I much rather joke about being the most hated in the neighborhood and trying to get the neighborhood kids to be afraid of me. Unfortunately, they still show up here so I must try harder. My husband has hidden my son’s bb gun, though, and so that option is definitely off the table.

However, when I am caught being nice or pleasant, it is usually because I try to be helpful and charitable. My grandfather had made a strong impression on me from the time I was young to always be of service to my fellow man. I often watched him take tomatoes from his garden to his neighbors or share ice cream (his most favorite commodity). He would chat with people he knew were lonely or didn’t have many friends or always take some time to stop by someone’s home who he knew was sick.  He and his brothers would pull some of the tar off the roads that had gotten warm in order to have “chewing gum” during the Depression. Because of this unpleasant memory, my grandfather would carry extra chewing gum with him all the time to offer children. He would tell me that children should always have some gum if possible.  By far, my grandfather is the greatest example to me of someone who always put other people first.

I want my children to have that same example and have I tried to show them the joy that comes from being charitable. Because I am uncomfortable with acknowledgement or attention, they have seen me do many things and often not receive thanks. My son was frustrated by this when he was younger, and perhaps he still is on occasion, but he also knows that I believe charity is for the receiver and not the giver.

My heart is tender towards people who are unable to provide for their families. I have always been so fortunate in this regard even in the most financially difficult of times.  I was so broken hearted for a woman at Walmart whose husband had been deployed and his pay hadn’t been transferred yet. She and I had been talking in line about this was another Thanksgiving they would be away from each other, her kids racing around their cart full of groceries. I have felt that same embarrassment that burned her cheeks when the cashier told her that her card had been denied. I have cried the same tears.  It’s not a good place to be in, a place where you don’t know exactly what to do. I understand. I don’t hesitate to pay for other people’s groceries or meals or gas. It’s not about receiving thanks or accolades, I get embarrassed by such. It’s about thinking of my grandfather chewing tar as a little boy and collecting discarded coal thrown to him by train conductors so that he could heat his home.

I want my children to grow up into good people. Charitable people. People who remember to give freely with their actions whenever possible because words don’t feed hungry children.  Yes, it is nice to be told ‘Thank you’, but it’s even better knowing you’ve given happiness.  Even if they’re mom was the mean lady in cul-de-sac. Kind of.

C. Streetlights
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Published by C. Streetlights

I wrote and illustrated my first bestseller, "The Lovely Unicorn" in the second grade and I've been terrified of success ever since. Published by ShadowTeamsNYC and represented by Lisa Hagen Books

3 thoughts on “Chewing Tar and Being Charitable”

  1. I hear you, my friend.
    Giving is a powerful form of receiving. x

  2. debra says:

    Yes. This. xoxo *sniff, sniff* Your grandfather sounds like a good soul. We can be that grumpy woman on the block (me) & still be charitable when we can. Charitable is not about being liked or popular. I get that.

    p.s. I remember chewing tar off the road as a kid–for fun.

    1. Thank you, for “getting” me. Thank you. (And chewing tar for fun?!)

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