Recollection: how gratitude stole the grinch

Nuri Vallbona/Miami Herald/MCT/Newscom/File

Christmas 2008 was going to be the worst we had ever experienced.

I had been unemployed for three months and we couldn't afford presents for anyone, let alone groceries for the holiday meal. The cupboards were becoming quite bare. No monies were expected to come in time and I became terribly depressed.

I cried at least once a day for about a week prior to the holiday.

Then my husband and I began to talk about the importance of being grateful for what we had and the need to stop dwelling on what we didn't have. In this case, I needed to get rid of a load of self-pity.

We were invited to my sister's for a Christmas Eve potluck. I was able to contribute a great broccoli casserole because my son had just been given a huge, fresh broccoli floret (the irony being that I never buy broccoli). We had a great time. My husband and I were very grateful.

Later that evening, my son telephoned and asked if he could bring a friend home to spend the night and Christmas with us. This young man had no one to spend the holiday with. I assured my son that there was always room for one more in our house.

This young man got on the telephone and began weeping with gratitude. I told him dinner wasn't going to be spectacular but that it would be all that any of us needed. He was so grateful and so was I.

My menu for the day was homemade spaghetti with meat sauce, bread, and some pickled vegetables (giardiniera) that I always kept in the house. This was a much simpler menu than I'd fixed for any previous Christmas, but I was grateful to share it.

When I awoke Christmas morning to greet our guest and my son, I found a large, restaurant container on my counter. It turned out that the young man was working at a restaurant/pub and wanted to contribute to the dinner, so he brought home 12 of the biggest meatballs I had ever seen.

Needless to say three big men and I had all that we could eat. Our "loaves and fishes" had multiplied.

This young man is still staying with us (three weeks later) and has become a contributing partner in our financial adventure. Everyone's needs are being met and harmony reigns. Our gratitude is boundless.

[Editor's note: That's where the original story ended. But Cindy sent this update by e-mail. ]

The addendum to the story is that after holding to our gratitude, daily, we received a new permanent income that we were told would never be made available to us. It not only satisfied the need caused by my missing income but surpassed it.

As our need was met, our house guest's need was also met. He found work in a field that he enjoyed and was able to move on. However, he is now a permanent member of our family. My husband and I think nothing about calling him our son and in turn he calls us "Mom and Dad."

We all grew very close during this time and openly talked about the fact that it was God supplying our needs "abundantly." I could go on and on about many other blessings that happened for each of us during this time, but this article isn't long enough. We are continuing thanking God daily and going forward with joy.

– This post was contributed by Cindy MacWhinney in Bakersfield, Calif.

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