The other day I met a mom who is anticipating a tough holiday season. I haven’t known her long, but I’ve learned enough about her to know that she has a very long history of giving to others and helping those less fortunate. She just didn’t expect to need help herself this year. Not surprisingly, she’s also feeling the winter blues.
It’s not easy to reach out, but she did, and consequently a bag of gifts for her three kids passed from our hands to hers. Later, she e-mailed me a message that acutely struck home, so I hope she doesn’t mind my sharing it here: “It’s funny,” she wrote, “how someone helping me actually made my spirits rise. Most people may get depressed over getting help. But it makes me feel good knowing that there are people out there who care.”
I so totally get her. My family is needy too, but in a different way. My husband is quadriplegic with health problems, and we’re busy working parents. So our neediness usually comes in the form of I-don’t-have-time-to-clear-the-snowy-driveway stress, and I-need-a-ride-to-the-drugstore pressure, and you’re-invited-for-dinner-but-you-have-to-bring-the-casserole angst. Lately, our day-to-day life is time-squeezed, typically unpredictable, often chaotic. I’ve been known to throw a tantrum or two and I’m not proud of it.
But how lucky are we? We are endowed with the most supportive neighbours, friends and relatives anyone could want. We are constantly helped. We are the helpees.
And, just like my new acquaintance wrote to me, it genuinely does lift our spirits. It makes our lives that much rosier, knowing these lovely people care, that they’re here if we need them, that they think of us – and that they’re not yet sick of bringing the food when they visit us. (It probably doesn’t hurt that I’m learning to make a mean martini.)
In fact I think one of the reasons it feels so fantastic to help others is because all of us have learned, at some time or another, exactly how it feels to be the helpee. So we know full well that the other person is feeling appreciative, supported, loved. And we know it’s because of our own act of kindness.
Yippee for helpees.