The Gift of Compassion

inspired by Jay's "All I Want for Christmas" post.  

When I was in 4th grade, my family was poor.  My mom was on Maternity leave and the family’s sole income was from my step-dad.  He was a tree surgeon and work isn’t great in the winter time especially the messy Tennessee winters.  As a child, I didn’t realize just how poor we were.  I mean, I knew we didn’t have the things that other people had, but I was used to our standard of living.  I am sure that I had no idea about my family’s economic situation, but now I know and I know that it was way more screwed up than being out of work. 

 My mother, knowing that she was not going to be able to buy us much of anything for Christmas, gave our names to the Salvation Army for the Angel Tree.  The only toy I had asked for was a Transformer named Slingshot.  I wanted it so bad.

 On Christmas morning I woke up and under the tree was the only present I remember getting that year or for some of the years around it.  I had Slingshot.  I opened him, transformed him a few times, and then put him on my dresser.  I don’t think I ever played with him again.  I didn’t want him to get broken, and I didn’t want my then 6 year old brother getting a hold of it. 

 I believe my mom told me that it was an Angel Tree gift when I got it.  I don’t think I fully appreciated it at the time.  I recognized it as nice and was happy to get what I wanted.  As the years passed and I was faced with other small Christmases, I grew to realize just how nice the gesture was.  I have since bought items for Angel Trees, Toys for Tots, Book Trees, and for poorer children that I knew personally.  That one Christmas twenty-one years ago has inspired a need in me to want to help people at this time in year.  The person that picked my Angel gave the gift of compassion as well as a simple transformer.  It is something I will never forget and something that I will never be able to repay. 

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18 Responses to “The Gift of Compassion”

  1. Thats a beautifully sad story. Its so nice that you got the transformer. And its even nicer that you can still remember it so clearly. Even nicer than that is, you have more compassion and understanding for those in need and you take it to the next level by donating toys yourself. You are a real life hero! 🙂
    I know you said "I will never be able to repay" but I truly believe you are repaying the favor by passing it on to other children in need.. You are someone else's angel, and that's more amazing than anything! 🙂

  2. that's nice that someone was able to give you exactly what you wanted for christmas. and it's nice that you're doing the same thing for other kids in need. 🙂

  3. A very touching story. Glad you got what you wanted and protected it and that you remember to give back. I gave some money today at Toys R Us when I made my purchase. My only hesitation was how much?

  4. You repaid for yourself and a lot of people in similar situations just by sharing your story. I remember hard Christmases as a kid too, and since my birthday is the next day it was a double whammy if we didn't have much. Especially at that cold (read: need to pay for heat) time of year. Although as hard as it was as a kid, I can't imagine what my parents must have felt like not being able to give their child a fancy Christmas. Bless my mom and grandparents, they did a damn good job with what they could.You're a great guy giving back today now that you can.

  5. Thank you for sharing such a touching story. I would hazard to say that you are doing a very good job of repaying the compassion your gift-giver gave to you.

  6. Budd — perfect story that encapsulates so much of Christmas time. Incorporating it into you adult life shows that power of generosity and the way that it can be multiplied upon itself.

  7. I don't know if it was sad; it had a happy ending after all.

  8. @grace, red mosquito, country cinderella- Thanks! I will continue to try and help those less fortunate than myself.
    @Steve- Like the movie pay it forward or Return of the Living Dead III. I need a mardi grass coin though.

  9. Pay it forward… it's a simple as that. If only everyone would do the same. Thank you for sharing.

  10. (TIG)ed. Congrats.

  11. Awesome story, Budd. Actual evidence that Giving Trees work. Made my day! Thanks for sharing this and congrats on the TIG nod!

  12. Nice to see your story on the TIG.

  13. Thanks everyone!

  14. Congrats on the [TIG] – very deserving. I love that you have taken that simple gesture and chosen to give back. That is just awesome.

  15. Oh this is a heartbreakingly a wonderful story. My family never celebrates Christmas (we are not even Christians) so on Christmas day I always felt dreary because my home would be empty and it would be a normal day for us except for no work. It was gloomy and it is still. I would like to help out kids / elderly during this time of the year. Your post and Jay's has inspired me.

  16. I don't know if it was sad; it had a happy ending after all.

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