For a good portion of my childhood, most of my dinners came in the form of a casserole. These meals were usually given to us by family, friends or members of my parents’ church. It wasn’t because we couldn’t provide for ourselves, but because I guess these people wanted to help in any way that they could. With my dad always being in the hospital and my mom constantly working to keep us at our standard of living, there was little time to cook dinner for my siblings and me.
I assumed that my mom or grandparents had made the food, but it wasn’t until later that I learned where most of my dinners came from. Being at the age where I didn’t care about anything that did not involve Star Wars or Halo, I accepted the appearances of home-cooked food, even though I had not seen anyone in the kitchen. When I realized the origin of the meals, I still played it off like it was nothing because I wanted to stay distracted from what was going on in my family.
After my father passed when I was seventeen, I still didn’t understand what those meals meant. I was too wrapped in my emotions to deal with it. It took me talking to a homeless man in the streets of Ann Arbor that finally got me thinking about how gifts impacted my family. As I was passing, he asked for a bit of spare change. All I had was a five dollar bill and I figured that giving it to him would get him off of my back. He thanked me and began to ramble, but among the ramblings I found something that just wouldn’t get out of my head. He spoke of love and compassion towards others regardless of their situation or the size of the help.
After several months I began to look back at my still continuing adolescent years and thought of why so many people helped my family in our situation. My parents still made good money so why did they think to help us? If I had to guess, the answer would probably have to lie in the fact that they cared. They couldn’t pay the medical bills or remove the tumors from my father’s body, but they could give us a casserole.
I believe in the small gifts. Giving everyday a little bit of yourself to someone in need. I believe that every little bit counts, even something as simple as a home-cooked meal and that even the slightest gesture of giving can make a great impact on someone.