Ted Gup's A Secret Gift is just such a book. It is a memoir but so much more: history (1933 heart of the Depression), study in humanity and psychology, reflection on the spirit of generosity, and
There are times when I wish I were more eloquent, vivid, and expressive. Mostly I use too many words to say a thing.
December 1933, an anonymous individual wanted to assist individuals who were in need. The donor was to be anonymous as were the recipients. The amount was trivial in today's dollars ($5 per family) but a huge hand up for families that could not get $0.07 for a loaf of bread.
Mr. Gup tells any number of heart wrenching stories about decent, honest people.
It has made me rethink about my life and just how much I take for granted, feel entitled to, and how little tolerance these individuals would have had for me in my pity parties. I have always known the luxury of indoor plumbing, electricity, and winter heat. At my most pressed, I always have clothing that fits, shoes which are soled, something to eat.
Most of us do not have a living connection to the Great Depression; if we did, most of us never asked many questions about it. Yet it informed their lives, the lives of their children, and their children's children.
The book is eloquent, stark, sad, and uplifting all at once.
Is there a happily ever after, because face it, I like a happily ever after.
For some but not for all.
Did this change lives?
It did and it continues to this day. In fact, I think it is time to see what I might be able to do for someone else.