My son is a member of “Generation Y.” I think Gen Y is a subset of the generation called “Millennial.” Based on my cursory Internet research (one website), I missed being lumped into “Generation X” by one year. I say this to excuse myself from being precise about generation classification – I’m not expected to be tech savvy.
I’ve heard a lot of trash talk about Gen Y, namely that they’re entitled and narcissistic. I’ll admit that I’ve seen these traits displayed by kids of my son’s generation. I’ve sometimes thought to myself that if these kids are our future, maybe we should worry. I’ve never thought of my son as lazy and self-absorbed – he’s a 4.0 college senior who has worked through college and is headed to law school – but he recently did something that gave me hope for Gen Y, because I believe there must be others like him in his maligned generation.
My son attends college in an urban location. To avoid the hassle and expense of driving, he walks or rides his bike to get to classes and to his job. While walking in the vicinity of his campus one day, he was approached by several homeless individuals. Instead of feeling annoyed, he felt badly that he could offer them nothing.
The next day he bought bottled water, socks, kits of tuna salad and crackers, cups of applesauce, boxes of raisins, granola bars, cups of pudding, wet wipes, and two-gallon-size clear plastic bags. He assembled gift bags to give away. He didn’t want to have nothing for the next person who asked him for help.
When he went back to the area where he had encountered the homeless people, he was astonished to find that they were all gone. I told him the police had probably done a sweep of the area and driven them all away. He went back a few times, but they hadn’t returned. The police must have swept thoroughly, because there were no homeless people to be found in the vicinity of my son’s campus. The gift bags remain in my son’s car, ever ready to be given to anyone who asks.
While my son was home for Christmas, I found a few of the gift bags in the back seat of my car, and he told me why he had assembled them. We ran errands together that day, and we saw a man holding a sign saying that he was a veteran who wanted help. My son let me give one of his gift bags to this man. The man seemed truly touched and asked God to bless us.
As I write this story, shedding the tears I held back while my son was home, I wish my son could know that my favorite gift from him this Christmas wasn’t the one he placed under our tree.
© Living off Island, Writing Wahine, 2016.