By Tammy Davis
Before the flood, I loved working with organizations that provided Christmas for families in need. Angel Trees, Red Cross, Families Helping Families, we did them all. I did it to help the less fortunate, of course, but if I am honest I think I liked the feeling of being in a position to help others. It made me feel good about myself. It was a measure of success that I could not only provide for my family but could help others as well.
2015, the year of the flood was different.
It was a weekday in December, about two months after the flood, when I received an email to call a lady with one of the local groups. I thought she was going to ask me to adopt a family or even two. I was prepared to explain that we were taking one year off because of the flood. She would understand. I was not expecting the conversation that we had.
She was not looking for my help. In fact, it was the opposite. A family wanted to adopt me. I could not speak. I had to hang up. I could not form a word. I was still at school but had no more classes. I put my back against the cinder-block wall and slid down. I sat on the floor of my classroom and cried.
It reminded me of something my mother told me a long time ago. She had read about a girl who said she only felt poor at Christmas. People would bring a ham and some presents, and it made her uncomfortable. Other times of the year, she liked her life just fine. I knew exactly how that little girl felt.
Someone had given Families Helping Families my name and thought I needed help. That was humbling. It gave me a whole new insight to the Bible verse about supporting the weak. It is definitely better to give than receive. If you are the giver, things are going well for you. You have more than you need. If you are the receiver, you not only need help, but someone else knows that you need help. That is hard.
Throughout the whole flood experience, I kept telling myself that we would be fine, that the bad times would pass. Things were hard, and I knew it would continue that way for a while. The reality of our situation was sinking in more and more. It was thrown on me like a bucket of ice water that day as I was on the phone with the Christmas charity lady.
I called her back when I could form a sentence and told her thank you, but I was sure there were people whose situations were worse than mine. We were really fine. “That’s not the point,” she said. “All of our families have been adopted and people want to help you.”
I declined again. I told her that other than church, my daughter and I were skipping Christmas that year. We were running away and hiding from Christmas as best we could. It was just too hard.
Time has passed, and things are better now. Those hard, hard days are over, and now I am in a position to help others. Thank goodness I am in a position to help someone else, even if only in a small way. I can’t donate at the level I once did, but I can be a help to someone in some way, and that is enough for now.
Tammy Davis is a SC writer. Her first book, Chin Up, Buttercup, is available on Amazon and Kindle. Davis loves going out in the community to speak to small groups. Email her at [email protected] for more information.