Imagine driving past a park one chilly November morning as you are headed to drop your kids off at school. The sun is just bursting out of the clouds, and the cold frost twinkles on the grass.
You pass a park and see a minivan. It's side door is open, and overflowing with open boxes and bags of clothes. Two small children play on the swings in school uniforms, as a woman picks up the picnic table and walks to the garbage can with the remains of breakfast. A man walks out of the park bathroom with a pile of clothes in his arms.
You think to yourself how odd it is to see a family at a park at this time of morning.... especially on such a cold morning.
Then it hits you. The boxes and bags in the van are the family's entire belongings. The children are spending time playing in the only backyard they know. The woman served her family breakfast on a cold metal picnic table. The man had washed up and changed for work in a park bathroom.
Over and over, this scene replays each morning, until the first snowfall. Then the park district police stop coming to unlock the bathrooms for the winter.
Fast forward to today.
As I drove the kids to school, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a minivan in the park's lot. I didn't really pay attention until Keira mentioned the child on the slide had on the same kind of dress as her. Flashback to last November.
Was it the same family? How could it be? Or was it another family, down on their luck, who just happens to attend the same school as my children?
As I drove to work in my new jacket, sipping my just-bought iced coffee, I was hit with a wave of heartbreak and guilt. How truly grateful am I? For the house that keeps my kids safe and warm? For the nice clothes I have for work? Granted, I only spent $15 on this jacket at Walmart of all places, but we had stopped there after dinner and a movie... luxuries that I am sure some families do not know. What a person might give to have a hot cup of coffee early this morning with a bit of wind in the air, the person who may have slept in his car last night. And here I sit at the drive-up window, a myraid of choices to drink and some cash in my hand.
My life is full of blessings. Absolutely overflowing with them.
Yet last week, I was sulking over something petty. I even question my writing skills and if there was a point to keep this up. I took sometime to myself, and thought I was over it. But the feelings still lingered deep inside. Until this morning. When I realized there are so many bigger things in life to worry over. And many of the big things - I don't have to worry about. I have a house, two cars, a job that includes great insurance, three little monsters, and a great husband. We are for the most part healthy, the kids are well-fed, and we all stay warm at night.
What about you? What are you grateful for?