I was at the mall today and there they were: The Christmas Angel Trees. I almost passed them by because, really, we don't have a lot of extra income right now and we have a lot of people to buy for and - and - and....and then I realized those were excuses I needed to stop allowing myself to make.
I know the sorrow of families who cannot afford a Christmas for their kids. Because of the work I do, I talk to families every day who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and warm, running water in their houses. I hear the pain and desperation in the voices of young moms, raising their kids alone while working 2 jobs and still not making enough money to have a Christmas. I have talked to Grandparents who are raising their Grandchildren as their own and cannot afford to fill their own prescriptions, much less buy clothes and shoes and food and presents for the little ones. In the past few weeks, I've had to say more times than I can count, "I'm so sorry I don't have anywhere to refer you to get help this Christmas. I hope you're able to find a church or school that can adopt your family." I've felt helpless and useless and, in light of how fortunate we are, too fucking grateful for words.
And so, I couldn't just walk past those trees. But, being the procrastinator that I am, most of what was left a mere 3 days prior to Christmas was stuff I couldn't afford: a bike, PS3 games, a robot. I skimmed through, and my eyes fell on The One: an 8 month old boy who, according to his card, needed 'a toy'. A toy. As in 1 toy.
I fiured it was fitting that I be and Angel for an 8 month old, since Luca's almost 8 months old herself. There's something about looking at your own sweet baby's face and feeling sick at the thought of another baby her age going without when she has so much. We ended up getting him 3 toys and a warm, soft outfit, but I still worried if it would be enough. Did his parents have money to buy diapers...wipes...a crib? Or were they like the parents of the 1 month old I saw hanging on the tree, who requested those very things?
Maybe it's the holiday stress. Perhaps it's the Mommy Emotions. But I found myself in tears, semi-hiding my face behind one of the Angel trees, as I pictured the kids still left hanging up there. I hope that each and every one gets picked off those trees. I know that, for us, being a Christmas Angel is something I'd like to make a tradition. Every year, we'll pick a kid Luca's age from the tree, and when she's old enough to understand, we'll let her choose the gifts. I hope it will teach her that there is always room in life to give to those around us. I hope it will give her perspective on how truly lucky she is to have family who can afford to not only give her the essentials but also spoil her with toys and books and cuddles and love. And I hope it will remind her that she's an important piece of this world we live in, and that she can commit a small act that makes a big difference.