Rhonda Cagle

Gifts of Comfort and Joy

In Uncategorized on December 10, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Recently, my husband and I found ourselves packing for business trips to the East Coast that coincided in the same city at the same time. Pulling out my wool coat, scarves and gloves, I was reminded of the business trips my father used to take; remembered watching him pack his fold over garment bag with suits and ties and stock his briefcase with pads of paper, pens, and lots of business cards.

As a teenaged girl, my father was frequently on business trips that took him to the Midwest and East Coast. He would brave the snowy cold of city streets with only his suit coat to keep him warm. Being the sole provider for our family, there were better things to do with his money than buy a coat that wouldn’t be used on a regular basis.

Still, it bothered me to think of my father trudging through ice and snow without a wool overcoat. So, one Christmas, I decided to do something about it.

I took the money I had earned from my after school job and made my way to the stores. I looked through many racks of coats at several clothing stores to try and find a wool overcoat that would keep my dad warm and look professional over his suits. After finally finding one I could afford (sort of), I took the coat home, wrapped it in Christmas paper, and placed it under the tree.

It still makes me smile, remembering the look of complete surprise and delight when my dad opened that gift. It was unexpected. Extravagant. Thoughtful. And all these years later, my heart still warms with pride remembering the next trip my dad packed for, seeing his new warm overcoat draped over his suitcase and briefcase. Knowing he would be warm was comfort to my own heart.

Photo: zimbio.com

Photo: zimbio.com

I told my husband this story as I insisted he come with me and shop for his own overcoat in preparation for our respective business trips. My husband didn’t own an overcoat. Like my dad, my husband insisted he would be fine in the freezing temperatures with his suit coats and perhaps a sweater or two. And, like my dad, he was equally appreciative of stepping out into the winter winds a few days later, wearing the warm overcoat I had found.

What is it about the gift of a coat that warms my own heart?

Each year, I make sure our family adopts at least one Angel Tree child from a local charity. We make sure to purchase the items listed for the child. But I always add a warm coat to the pile of toys and clothing we return for the child.

In my professional life, I see many children whose names are often on Angel Trees in other parts of the country. I see the coats they trudge to school in; see the stains and rips in the too small or too large hand-me-downs they shiver in. Worse, I see the children who insist they are fine in only a sweatshirt or hoodie, determined to make due with what they own because they can’t afford more.

I am thinking of these children as I select my own Angel Tree child this holiday season. Life is hard for these Angels. Winter winds blow and the snow and ice comes.

I can’t change the weather or the storms. But I can make sure they have a coat that is warm and comforting. Unexpected. Extravagant. Thoughtful. It’s the best part of this holiday season – one I hope you will join me in sharing.

Originally published in print for The Arizona Republic, December 3, 2014

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