An Inspirational Holiday Story

In Creating Happiness by Barbara Jacoby

Recently, a dear friend of mine, Tara, shared with me a very special story in response to one that I had sent to her.  To me, her telling of her very unique experience set the stage for me for the holidays and what I believe they truly represent.  Therefore, with her permission, I would like, in turn, to share it with you as we begin this holiday season.  Perhaps we may choose to think about things a little differently with regard to our giving and caring and sharing with others.

The Cracked Pot story reminded me of something that really happened to us one Christmas Eve a long time ago. We took the kids into the city, in fact, I forgot what we did…maybe a dinner?? A show??? Whatever it was, we spent a lot of money……so much that we decided to walk the long length of the river down to where you catch the ferries to Hoboken where we would pick up our car waiting for us on the other side. 

The day had been cold and dreary, and not a nice one to be outside. It was near evening and we were in a hurry to get home and be warm and safe. But we paused for a moment by the river, watching the lights in NJ blinking on in the distance across the water, because even though the area was crappy, and a celebration of urban blight, it still looked pretty, as though for this one time, in honor of  Christmas Eve, the natural beauty of the area transcended  the surrounding ugliness. Hearing a sound below, we looked through the barbed wire fence and saw a homeless man, obviously deranged, messing obsessively about in the vast junk heap, fussing about with great energy and importance. He was very busy, and mumbling to himself, and as usual, the little pang I feel for all mentally ill people poked me in the heart again. Poor wreck of a human being!!!  Was he looking for food? Looking for drugs? Was he an ex-vet?? An ex-con?? Did he have schizophrenia?? How did he get like this?? Could he be capable of rape….or murder??? Where was his family??  These are the thoughts that pass through your mind when you see this sort of thing, so I wasn’t prepared for the moment when this ragged man, who looked like he hadn’t shaved or showered in two years, limped over to a corrugated iron hut he had evidently put together and pulled back the curtain to the door. A wounded pelican was seated in a broken dirty basket on a table, its wing carefully bandaged. The man went to it, and by the way he stroked the bird and lovingly fed it bits of food you could see they were old friends. He had set himself a plate and a knife and a fork, and sat down to enjoy his Christmas Eve meal …with his pelican. A person who most people would assume to be at the bottom of life’s barrel had the humanity, the love and the initiative to look after something other than himself. God, I so wanted to rush down there and give him a 20 dollar bill, and wish him a Merry Christmas, but there was no easy access to do so and the barbed wire fence we leaned on was almost over our heads…. and the ferry boat approached, and the horn sounded, and it was the last one of the evening, and so we had to rush off. And to this day, I regret that. I wish now I had stayed, and helped the man and taken a taxi ride home. But at least I took away with me, from that time… a valuable lesson…that no matter how little
you think you can contribute, we all can contribute something, and those who can contribute a lot should make it their personal duty to do so. And for some reason after seeing that man and his pelican, I never felt sorry for
myself again.”
  Do you have an inspirational story that you would like to share