This I Believe

Gillespie - Lambertville, New Jersey
Entered on December 24, 2007

This I Believe- The Power of Giving

It was the night before Christmas Eve, and the bright glow of the streetlights glistened brightly upon the city of New York. A thin blanket of snow lay flat on the sides of sidewalks and on the tops of buildings. Billboards and front doors wore wreaths of red and green as a feeling of peace filled the air. The snow falling gently down from the sky almost seemed to slow down the city’s usual hustle into a peaceful tranquility. People dotted the sidewalks, struggling to keep a hold of their many shopping bags stuffed to the brim with presents for loved ones and treats for family. Feelings of joy were almost contagious from the carolers making their way down 5th Avenue to the scent of hot chocolate in the air. Everybody had a smile on their face and warmth in their hearts. Everybody has a house to go home to at Christmastime; at least most everyone. It was Christmastime in New York City, and I had twenty dollars in my pocket to spend on anything I wanted.

Just as I making my way across the street to my favorite store, I spotted something in the distance hidden within a dark alley. Stopping in my steps, I dropped by bags to the side of the curb. There sat a woman stooped on her knees with a small boy in her lap, trying to keep warm together. Tattered remnants of a sweater just covered up her legs and arms, exposing her skin to the chilly winter winds. As she rubbed the little boy’s face and tried to keep his blanket enclosed around his frail body, a gust of wind struck up. Snowflakes were sent twirling up and around. The people of New York buttoned up their jackets and tossed their scarves once more around their necks. I stood and watched for a moment longer as a single dollar bill tumbled down the busy street, getting caught in clumps of tarred snow and began to slow. The little boy broke free from his mother and jumped to his feet, chasing after the dollar as if he were chasing after his life. He chased after that dollar as if it was the only way he’d be able to eat for months- and it was.

The thought sent chills up my spine, but this time it was not from the cold. “Will this be enough for a present?” “Will this be enough for food this Christmas?” I imagined the boy asking his mother like he did every year. The worst time to be alone and helpless is during Christmas, when families are supposed to be the happiest. I realized how easy it is to get wrapped up in our own lives and forget about those who have little. We forget about those who keep chasing and chasing but never find what they’re looking for. It was then that I realized I was a light out of their dark situation. I was their shining billboard in the dark. Giving up one thing I wanted that Christmas could leave that family with something to remember forever, and that was a big enough present for me. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my money, walking up to mother and the little boy, exasperated, not having caught his dollar. “Merry Christmas,” I said, and walked away.

Ever since I left that little boy, I have continued the tradition of giving every Christmas, and every day possible. The smile that spread across his face was brighter than the star atop the city tree and Times Square put together. It may not have changed the lives of every homeless person in the world or even in the city, but it made a difference to one. I believe in giving to others. I believe in selflessness. I believe in sacrificing for the sake of a stranger. This I believe.