Last week was the week of “planes, trains and cars”.
Travel increased last weekend – a contrast to last Thanksgiving. I was glad I didn’t have to go anywhere last Thursday.
Travel is said to expand the mind – give a new perspective on life.
Does the Thanksgiving trip widen anything other than our belts?
Travel thoughts always remind me of my grandmother’s brave journey from Austria to America at the age of 17 or 18 in the late 1800s.
When I was a child, my grandmother shared a room with me.
Grandmother was the girl targeted by her parents to be sent to the convent.
It was not an uncommon practice at the time.
I like to think my grandmother had a playful or teenage rebellious streak that made her parents make the decision.
Not wanting to be a nun, Grandmother fled and traveled across Europe to New York where an aunt took her in.
His journey through Europe at such a young age impresses me now. As a child, I took his courage for granted.
Her travels have not led to an easy life.
Grandma’s husband abandoned her, leaving my grandmother to feed, dress and house her young son and two younger daughters.
It is said that she “never felt sorry for herself”. Instead, she found tailoring jobs – in Manhattan – to support herself and her youngsters.
Every now and then the Salvation Army helped him make ends meet.
Once in the United States, she never ventured far from New York and New Jersey.
But, by sharing a room with me and telling her stories, she sparked my imaginary journey.
I would wake up early on cold weekend mornings and check to see if Grandma was awake.
If so, I would ask, “Grandma, do you want to tell me a story? (I’m sure I forgot the “please.”)
The theme was almost always the same. But each story seemed new.
Usually the story centered on a poor family – with bare cupboards and only a few heels of bread for dinner.
A visitor comes to the door of their little cottage in search of food and shelter. The family shares their bread with the visitor.
The next morning, the mysterious guest is gone, but the closets are full.
I can still see images of the creatures in the story – most of the time they look old and stooped – from another time and place.
Just as my grandmother reached out for Salvation Army help, today many in the United States and abroad are reaching out for help.
They need helping hands – to lighten their burden – to keep death at bay.
Although most of us cannot travel to help in person, we can use our imaginations to visit them.
Can you see the 5 year old boy in a refugee camp in Syria – walking barefoot in the snow because he has no shoes on?
Can you see the Larimer County mom who can’t cook her box of macaroni and cheese because the food banks are running out of milk?
If you saw them, I know you would help.
If you have the extra cash this holiday season, who do you want to help?
Readers, let us know about you.