A Little Hand Up

A Little Hand Up

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

A Little Hand Up

Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.

~Mother Teresa

I bundled up my six-year-old daughter, Renee, against the Minnesota cold and a forecasted snowstorm for her short walk to school. Snow pants, coat, scarf, gloves, and her new wait-until-payday boots, all princess pink and a half size too big to allow for growing. Renee was so excited about her new boots that she had worn them in the house all weekend, only giving them up for bath and bed.

It pleased me to slip her feet into them, knowing each precious toe would be warmly nestled into the deep soft lining. It pleased me almost as much as throwing out her old ones with the sticky zippers. They definitely hadn’t made it into the box of freshly laundered and packed clothes that Renee and I had spent Saturday morning sorting out of her closet for her younger cousin.

Kissing Renee on her eyelids, the only uncovered part of her body, I opened the front door. Her two big brothers tossed me a kiss and a “Love you, Mom,” as they each grabbed one of their sister’s hands and run-skipped the block to the crossing guard.

I poured myself another cup of coffee, turned on the radio and began mentally checking my things to do. I wasn’t too far into dance-cleaning the kitchen before “Get up and Boogie” was interrupted by the happy news that school was closing early due to the snowstorm.

Within a few minutes, my boys exploded into the house and out of their winter wear. They gave me a “Yippee!” high-five and headed for their game system.

Renee wasn’t able to wiggle-dance out of her winter bundling.

“Mommy, I’m stuck all over,” Renee said, doing an off balance, toe to heel, boot push move until she plopped to the floor, thankfully cushioned by the seat of her snow pants.

I bent over to help her. “Renee?” I asked, surprised at the grimy boot in my hand. “Where are your new boots?”

“These are my new, new boots,” she smiled at me.

“No, honey, these aren’t your new boots. Look, they’re dirty. The clasps are broken and the snow got in through the hole in the side.”

“Yup,” she agreed, not realizing the implied question in my statement. “My friend’s clothes are all like that and these boots were too small for her.”

“But what happened to your pretty-princess boots?”

“Mommy,” she smiled at me, “My friend needed boots. She outgrew hers and her feet were cold. My boots were warm and they fit her, and she looked pretty in them. She was happy and that made me happy too. She gave me her boots as a hand-me-down and I gave her mine as a hand-me-up.”

Suddenly, the ugly boot in my hand became as beautiful as the fabled glass slipper. The simple clarity of truth filled my heart. I had felt generous setting an example for Renee by giving away outgrown and no longer needed clothes because it was the right thing to do.

But, not only had Renee done the right thing by giving her new boots to someone who needed them, she had done it the right way. She was a cheerful giver. She reminded me that God hands us down His blessing so that we may cheerfully hand-me-up His abundance to others.

~Cynthia Hamond, S.F.O.

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