From Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul

Bearing Thanksgiving

We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.

SirWinston Churchill

“What kind of Thanksgiving can I provide?” I muttered to myself.

After all, I had recently moved my three young daughters back to Florida. Living in a small trailer and still jobless, I struggled to make ends meet.

Still, I counted my blessings when, three short days before the holiday, I learned that a young family in a nearby home lost everything to a flash fire. I watched as the entire community became involved in their rescue: A church provided shelter; others gathered food, household items, bedding and clothing. Brigades of busy people willingly gave their time as well as their money.

The afternoon before Thanksgiving, two women came to our house collecting donations. Although we had little to spare, I helped carry items to their station wagon, longing in my heart to give more.

As we stood outside chatting, my little Helen, barely three, shrieked, “Wait! Don’t anybody move.” She streaked into the trailer door, wailing, “We forgot something!”

I looked apologetically at the ladies, but before I could follow her, Helen was back outside, carrying her favorite teddy, the bear I had made for her birthday just two months before.

“Mommy,” her green eyes searched my face, “the little girl doesn’t have any toys. She needs this bear. I have to give it to her.”

My heart quaked. I thought about the few toys Helen had and how many hours I had spent sewing this one. Now she wanted to give it away. We stood in stunned silence, the ladies staring at me. I struggled with my feelings. I thought of all the things we needed and didn’t have.

Everyone held their breaths as I stoopeddownto faceHelen, worry lines creasing the forehead of her heart-shaped face. My fingers brushed aside her red-gold hair even as my eyes filled.

“Of course, Helen,” my voice nearly broke, “you’re right. We forgot the toy. How thoughtful of you to remember!”

And I realized my own heart would never be as big as the one pounding in my daughter’s little chest.

Jaye Lewis

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