Giving, and Thanks.

Last night we had another power cut, blacking out most of the evening. Initially I was grouchy. I hadn’t yet cooked dinner and having been a bit peaky for a few days I had a lot of blog catching up to do. Then I got a grip. We were safe, warm (as long as we stayed in the one room), and a supper of cheese and biscuits would often be a guilty pleasure anyway. The situation was hardly dire or dramatic. Having some of your creature comforts taken away for a few hours does sometimes give you a bit of a reality check and remind us how lucky we are to have a home at all.

So, I have a story to share. I also tell this story every time I listen to someone complaining about people living on the streets.

In the UK in the 1980s there were a lot of visible homeless people, or beggars (there is a difference, one does not necessarily mean the other) on the streets in central London. Those years were so difficult for so many, and so lucrative for a small minority. I was OK. I was in my first job, with a decent starter salary and most of my income was at my own disposal. Not exactly a ‘Have’, but lucky enough not to be a ‘Have not’.

Newspapers and TV would often comment on the numbers of homeless, some sympathetically and some not. There were warnings that you should not give money, that it was a trick to steal your purse, or that some people were ’professional’ beggars and went home to a nice cosy house at the end of a lucrative day. Many also said that you were being made a fool of if you gave anything.

I found it hard to accept that all these people were con artists. Another line taken was that they deliberately chose to be homeless. Maybe some did, maybe some preferred this way of life, but I couldn’t believe that was the case for all. You had to consider that if they had made the choice to run away, or live on the streets, what awful things happened at home to make this the better option? Maybe this was not intended, but things had simply not worked out and there was no way back?

Anyway, whatever had happened to someone, however they had gotten there, I (and of course thousands of others) could not simply walk by every day and ignore a person on a pavement. I made a decision that I didn’t care if I was being ‘conned’, or made a fool of by some: that would be their problem, not mine. I didn’t give money to everyone I saw, but used to give a decent amount of money, so a few pounds, not pennies, to some, hoping it meant they could definitely eat that day.

It was Christmas Eve, and we finished work around lunchtime. As was traditional, a visit to the pub was in order for a couple of white wine and tonics (really, not sure I would like that now!!) and then a few of us headed to London’s Oxford Street for some last minute shopping. It was cold, getting a bit dark, there was festive music coming from almost every shop and a sea of Christmas lights. The pavements were thick with shoppers and sightseers, making it difficult to progress, or even just keep track of your friends.

But someone caught my eye. She was a young woman holding a notice. The notice was brief, and I have to be honest and say that now I forget the exact details, but I think it just said she and her small family had been recently made homeless, and asked for any spare change. She was not confronting anyone, not even speaking, just standing quietly. I made a quick decision that I wanted to do something nice that afternoon. My purse was full of cash so I went up, tucked a £20 note into her hand and walked on as she was saying thank you. Now in those times, this amount of money would easily buy enough food for a week. Some of my work colleagues told me I was stupid, that she had probably been given many times that amount of money already, I was lucky my purse hadn’t been stolen etc etc. We carried on up towards Selfridges, with them still telling me I was daft.

And then the worst thing happened. She started to follow me. Someone I was with saw her dodging through the throngs of shoppers “oh look, she’s after you!” Stupidly, we sped up. Now I could hear her calling out ‘Miss, Miss, wait!’. There was a comedy chase on for a few moments and then she caught up with me. I honestly don’t know what I expected to happen next. For sure I didn’t think I would be mugged as all the dire warnings would have me fretting was likely to happen, because she just didn’t seem like that kind of person.

But I was definitely not expecting to hear “this is a lot of money. Are you sure you meant to give me this much?”

I told her I had meant to, and she seemed a bit bemused, or surprised maybe. She thanked me again, quietly. I hope we wished each other a Merry Christmas, but you know, this is not the Hallmark Channel so I cannot be certain. But I remember this woman every year, and I always hope she is OK, that things worked out for her. I hope she had a good Christmas.

To me, I actually don’t care if she raked in ££££s that day, but I really don’t think she did. If she was doing well enough standing where she was, and was unscrupulous enough to ask for money when she had no genuine need, why bother to chase me? No. She was a decent and honest person, that for some reason was in a bad situation and had no other options. I think I got more from the encounter than she did, to be honest.

So this is my ‘giving, and thanks’ story. Happy Thanksgiving to all those that celebrate the holiday.

Oh, and whilst we were in semi darkness last night I managed to make a card.

blue-merry

Supplies: Tonic Rococo Build a Wreath dies; Anna Griffin ‘merry’ die; The Works for the smaller sprig die (it doesn’t seem to have a name)

 

Advertisements

58 thoughts on “Giving, and Thanks.

  1. Sorry to hear you’ve been poorly..so have I, here do you want it back for a second go…?
    Love the story, it’s always better to err on the considerate side, I feel, rather than just dismissing all apparently desperate people as con artists…great card too x

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No more than last time. Foolishly I followed the ‘lightening can’t strike the same place twice’ theory!! So one torch, a few candles and early Christmas lights again!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful card. TFS the story. “There but for the grace of god go I” springs to mind in situations like that. You are obviously a very kind person. £20 was a lot of money back then and would have been a huge help to her.
    Hugs Flo x

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Are you still ill??!!! I think your mind is a bit fuzzy – either that or it’s the side effects of any medication you may have been on! I appreciate and thank you kindly for that lovely compliment but I happen to know that’s not the case 🙂 !!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well I disagree. I could never make cards the way you do, much as I would love to. So I am right and, if forced to arm-wrestle, I think I will win, even if I have to pull your hair first!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That is a fantastic story. We have a lot of homeless here, sometimes it is scary as they will stand in the middle of the street between cars at intersections. I love your attitude, I am glad to know someone else who shares my sentiments. It certainly feels better to give than avoid eye contact. Your card is beautiful. I can’t believe you created something this beautiful with practically no lights.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Glad you like the story. It is a good one for challenging a few peoples’ perceptions sometimes. As for the card, I probably did better because it was dark – less faffing around!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol – I think your predictive text changed my ‘faffing’ to ‘fading’. It’s dithering really. Shall I do this? What about that? How will this look? That sort of thing!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful story. I give to those on the streets all the time. Not one of these people has tried to harm me or steal my purse. What they choose to do with the money I give is their business. If I had more, I would give much more. What if I were the one on the street someday, truly hungry, and not one person had enough compassion to help me obtain at least one meal. God bless you for your kindness to this lady.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Gillian, I love your story, so perfect for the day before Thanksgiving. So many good lessons here; be compassionate and generous and don’t worry about giving to someone who may not need it – just listen to your promptings and all will be well. And what a beautiful card! Did you use vellum underneath your die cuts? That’s gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I agree with you completely. And yes, I did use vellum behind the Holly Leaf and Fern Leaf (the loopy looking one), and the Pine Cone. Otherwise there is too much overlapping of lines and open spaces. Glad you like it! Happy Thanksgiving!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A truly beautiful ‘spirit of Christmas’ story, and one which I love you for, Puff.
    I love that you just suddenly made that decision and stuck to it. I love that you didn’t let friends and colleagues talk you round and make you wish you hadn’t have given. Who knows that your act of kindness and generosity was the one thing which turned her life around. Or even saved her life. Some people become so desperate and so filled with misery that they see no way out of the place they’re in.

    So … on behalf of the human race – Thank you Puff, for giving that girl something to be thankful for. For allowing her and her family to eat that Christmas. For giving her hope. Thank you. …. and bless your beautiful heart.

    Oh… LOVE the card too. In the dark by the light of some Christmas lights is obviously the way to go!
    Squidges from me to you ~ Cobs. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Cobs, but actually, without wishing to sound too ‘sappy’ (because I am practical, not emotional) maybe I didn’t tell it right? She was the person who did the right thing, challenged preconceptions and gave me a story to tell years later. I was just there, with some spare cash.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You tell it however you wish.
        I know you’re not sappy, and you told it exactly, perfectly ‘right’. But … you cannot escape the fact that the spirit of Christmas was ‘in the room’ when these moments happened in your life, back in the year 19__ on Christmas Eve.
        You told it correctly and I read it correctly.
        ~ Cobs. x

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Such a nice story, Gillian! We also have many homeless here now (the highest numbers among the states) and even more people with homes, but still in need. A good thing is that now we have shelters and food drives to help them and most of them are not on the streets.

    Your card is very classy! Such a beautiful color! Love the layout and how you added vellum underneath die-cuts.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Regina! Locally (I don’t go into London much any more) we have food banks now, which were just not needed a few years ago. It annoys me that rubbish food is the cheapest and good stuff like fruit and vegetables can just be beyond the budget of some people. Something is wrong there. Anyway, I’m glad you like my icy card:-)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, something is very wrong here. Recently we received a ‘food drive reminder’ and there was something like “2 pounds of groceries or each $1 makes two nutritious meals”. When I saw it I had only one question: “What??? How in the world they can make “2 nutritious meals” out of $1?”. Many things are wrong…

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Stunning card and a wonderful story. You are one of those rare compassionate people who see beyond what everyone is saying. Bless you for what you did that day for someone in need. I hope that the recipient of your kindness is ok now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope she is too. But I was just someone with a bit of cash, she was the most decent and honest of people, despite her circumstances. Glad you liked the card!

      Like

  9. You are a wonderful woman! Don’t let anyone tell you different. I am glad to hear you are feeling better.
    The story and your card both made my day. I love it when people totally mess with others’ preconceptions. I would prefer to view people as basically good instead of thinking everyone is out to get me.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Story so true we see it everywhere. I always do my bit buy extra food and fill up the shopping trolley at Asda for those less fortunate. Its the least we can do. Again lovely card 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. That’s a beautiful card… more importantly though – what a beautiful story and person you are. You made me cry… those genuine acts of kindness mean so much and who knows what a difference that made to that girl that day and what the ‘ripple effect’ of that may have been…. I thank you for your wonderful kindness and we can all take a leaf out of your book… xx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for sharing tis beautiful story! I think what you did was with such honest intention that you were just meant to find the honest homeless young woman… I wish we all would share a litte more…
    The card is very beautiful too!!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh Gillian, what a great story. I’m sure that is one that will stay with you your entire life. I don’t see may homeless people in my day to day travels in my area. I do however always make donations to the organizations that help the homeless. Our office has a “casual Friday” once a month where we all make a small donation and then at the end of the year, we pick an organization and send them a check. I always write an extra check to add to what we have collected throughout the year. Our office also participates in a toy drive for the children at Christmas who are less fortunate. It always warms my heart to know that maybe I gave a child a special gift at Christmas. I always seem to go a little overboard when I am shopping for those toys…usually quite a bit over the budget. But oh well, to bring someone joy especially at this time of year just gives you a warm feeling, even if I don’t get to see their faces on Christmas morning.
    What a cute card! Glad you were able to make something without all any power! LOL Hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, you certainly do your bit, and your workplace too! And nobody can tell you off for going over budget with your generosity for such a good cause, I don’t think!

      Like

  14. What a wonderful story. Unfortunately even today, it is true that there are professional beggars and drug addicts looking for the next hit but there are so many genuine people in need and they deserve a but of humanity, not to be treated like a nuisance.
    Great card as well.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s