Working as the editor for the paper, I get to see far more in our community than I ever get to share in the pages of the Moab Sun News. There is only so much space to include the good that people do in our community.
Each Friday I get to read police reports that intimately detail acts of public service with some of Moab’s most vulnerable citizens. In interviews I hear individuals express gratitude for cooperative efforts to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and provide safe shelter.
This is a town that strives to take care of their own.
And I know it, because when I was alone and struggling, this town took care of me.
I was a single mom with four beautiful children the Christmas of 1997.
I worked for Grand County full-time and brought home exactly $1000 in income each month. A little over $700 of that went toward my mortgage. The engine in my car died a month earlier and I was trying to chauffer my kids in my parents’ old truck that seated only three, did not have reliable brakes and a driver’s side door that didn’t close all the way.
I was also attending Utah State University at the satellite campus here in Moab part-time to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Somehow I messed up the paperwork and a student loan I desperately needed to make ends meet wasn’t coming through in a timely fashion. I needed it to pay my gas bill. I needed it to find a car that worked. And I needed it to create some kind of semblance of Christmas for my kids.
But it just wasn’t coming through.
I had no idea how I would be able to get a Christmas tree, or presents to put under it. Nothing big – maybe some quilts for their beds, clothes for church and a maybe a toy or two.
And then, not much different than what you might see in some cheesy Christmas movie on television, the miracles started to happen.
One night I came home from school to find a brightly lit Christmas tree covered in ornaments in my living room – a gift from the LDS 4th ward relief society.
On another night I had a knock on the door. No one was there, but six big square cardboard boxes sat on my patio. Inside each box was used clothing, all in good repair. Each piece fit one of my four children or me perfectly. We wore those clothes for the next two years.
The Red Rock Four Wheelers called and asked if they could provide gifts for my children and a grocery store voucher so I could make a meal. Each of my children got a gift they truly desired. And we got food in our kitchen that we desperately needed.
And then an acquaintance from church invited me to lunch. We didn’t know each other well. I didn’t know what to think.
After small talk she expressed that she and her extended family – parents, siblings and their children – wanted to provide Christmas for my family.
“My dad makes quilts. Could your family use quilts?” she asked. And as I wondered how she and her family could possibly know exactly what my heart desired she followed with another question, “And clothes for church?”
When her family brought my children’s gifts to my home, there were surprises for me as well: A bottle of gardenia-scented lotion, a white chenille sweater, and the book “Simple Abundance.” Gardenia was my favorite scent. I wore the sweater until it was threadbare. I read a portion of that book each day for the next year.
All our needs were met, and far exceeded any hope I could have for Christmas. Indeed, it was probably my best Christmas ever.
There was far more done than helping a single mom provide for her children.
In that struggle to try to get ahead it is so easy to feel alone. There were several sleepless nights of worry, wondering how I could pay bills, feed and clothe my children and keep a roof over their heads.
But through the generosity of the people of Moab – I realized I wasn’t alone.
May we all remember during this holiday season that we are all in this together. That no matter what our differences may be – we are here to bear one another’s burdens to make them light.
And for those who were there to help me when I needed it: Thank you.