This morning, HHF is at #1 in the Pepsi Refresh competition, and one of Hannah’s Mom’s friends emailed me to say, “Good people tend to attract the support and love of good people. What all of you have done since the plan for HHF was hatched is just extraordinary.”Thoughts of “#1,” good people and Christmas lead to a thought about Hannah’s grand-father, my Uncle Earl or Uncle “Junior” as all of the cousins refer to him. Uncle Junior was a football coach at my high school before I went there. When I was a freshman and attending our family Christmas gathering, Uncle Junior walked by me wearing a football jersey with my high school’s name on the front (MAI for all of you Plattsburghians) and “Burnell” (our family’s last name) and the #1 on the back. I jokingly said, “I want that shirt!” He stopped in his tracks, peeled it off, leaving on only his undershirt in the bitter cold North Country. Handing me the jersey, he said, “Now you can’t say I never gave you the shirt off of my back.”
Over 30 years later, that jersey hangs in my closet. It has travelled with me to every dorm room and cramped grad school studio apartment, followed me to the South, saw me through my marriage and the birth of 2 kids, and now when I see it, it reminds me of one of the reasons I am determined to do all I can to help Hannah.
When Uncle Junior handed me that shirt, he was bringing his generous spirit onto a physical plane that I could see and touch. But he exemplified generosity in everything he did. He would never hesitate to give someone the shirt off of his back, either literally or figuratively. His children, one whom is Hannah’s Mom, Lori, grew up surrounded by that spirit and watching his example.
I absolutely believe what Lori’s friend emailed me this morning, “Good people tend to attract the support and love of good people.” One of the reasons HHF is, and there’s no other word for it but miraculously successful in such a short amount of time is that Uncle Junior’s sprit of generosity surrounds his children, and now it surrounds their children. When we give from our hearts with no strings attached, it creates something so much bigger than the gift we gave. It creates an energy wave that radiates out from us encouraging everyone it hits to do the same. And eventually that wave comes back to us, usually in ways we never could have imagined.
I know Uncle Junior never could have imagined how handing me that shirt would teach me a lesson about giving that would one day inspire me to do everything in my power to save his grand-daughter. But he didn’t do it because he wanted anything in return. He did it from his heart.
And that is the epitome of the Christmas spirit.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Kwanzaa and wishes for a peaceful New Year.Heather Burnell Tutwiler