Monday, December 1, 2008

Merry Christmas, Eva!

Every year, I like to adopt a family for Christmas. It's one of those feel good things that I know makes a real difference in someone's life. When the wee ones get older, I plan to involve them in choosing the family and the gifts and possibly contributing towards the gifts monetarily, as well. I need those warm and fuzzies every now and again.

This year, it was much harder to find a warm and fuzzy though.

The new church we joined this summer makes adopting the family easy. Or so I thought when I first spotted it. There was a lovely white binder that listed the family's information like names and ages and monthly income and sizes and what they're wishing for.

I began scanning the list a few weeks ago. Most of the early pages had already been taken by other parishioners. I finally got to a family that hadn't been taken. I picked up the pen to sign up for them, but instead the pen hung suspended in midair as my jaw dropped.

The dad in the family was asking for an iPod. So was one of the kids.

I moved to the next page and saw an iPod again. And again. And again. I also saw things like brand name shoes (more expensive than the ones I wear) and jewelry listed in the Christmas needs.

Really? Really? For a family that's struggling to put food on the table and is on food stamps (one of the requirements of this program) and is likely having difficulty just paying for heating and electricity, an iPod and other such frivolous items are on your Christmas wish list? I mean... I get toys for the kids, but iPods?

Then I started to feel like I was being really judgemental. Who am I to say what someone should or shouldn't ask for when putting together a wish list. After all, it is a wish list. And there's nothing wrong with asking for something you want. And kids need toys; that's part of Christmas.

Except that asking for items this expensive just sticks in my craw. If I'm spending money to help someone and make them happy, I just feel like buying an iPod for someone who is struggling this severely isn't going to make them any happier or their life any easier. Call me cynical, but it's my money.

I continued to flip through the list until I found Eva. She's 75 years old and asked for bedding, towels, a nightgown, a fleece top, and toiletries. I wrote my name by her.

And when I shopped for her, I remembered how hard it is to buy for someone given such limited information. What colors does she like? What style would she be ok with? What if I buy something and she doesn't like it?

I eventually got over my fears and started shopping. She ended up with two nice sweaters, a new nightgown, two new sets of towels (bath, hand and washcloth), a set of sheets, a fleece blanket, assorted toiletries, and a pair of slippers. And just for fun, I tossed in a set of cute Christmas tree earrings. I just hope she has pierced ears!

When I got home, I started laying it into a box. Then I decided I should read my instructions. UGH! I should have read them earlier. Like wayyy earlier. Each present needs to be boxed and wrapped, with Eva's name on them. And they all need to be put in a larger box and sealed with the number written on all sides. Oh, and I need to buy a gift card for groceries from a particular grocery store... that I don't shop at. Oops.

Suddenly, this wasn't as simple as what I was expecting. The good news is that I'm a box hoarder, so I was able to accomplish all my assigned tasks. Oh, except that the church was locked when I went to drop them off. Oops. Luckily, a cleaning person was there and was able to let me in. Phew!

And in a few short weeks, I can only hope that Eva's Christmas is a little brighter. Next year, I have a feeling it will be harder to find someone that I feel really good about helping. I expect to see more iPods and laptops and other things that I'm not buying for family, let alone friends. Am I being a Scrooge yet again, or does this seem a bit iffy?


Cookie December 1, 2008 at 4:50 PM  

I'm sure Eva will appreciate your generosity. Those people wanting ipods probably wouldn't appreciate it that much.
I was just talking to a friend today about how so many people are in need this year. And some of those people just made a bad decision or had bad luck and those people will get through the tough times and be better off in the future. And then there are other people who just like getting handouts and appreciate nothing. Those people will always be in need. It is kinda sad.

Kellan December 1, 2008 at 4:56 PM  

Oh, I love Eva! I think you are going to make her Christmas truly wonderful! And ... I'd have skipped over those families requesting Ipods too!!

Take care and have a good week - Kellan

Michelle December 1, 2008 at 7:50 PM  

Cookie - I think that's my issue maybe. The people who want an iPod will always want something else and will never be the ones to dig themselves OUT of the hole. Eva's on SS and has medical issues and just sounds more practical. But yeah... there are a LOT of people who need help this year.

Kellan - Phew! I'm not the only one who'd be making this kind of a decision. That makes me feel better. I wonder if this organization has the recipients send thank you notes. I was part of one previously that did, which was really neat. (obviously not TO me but to the organization that then passed them along to donors)

anymommy December 1, 2008 at 8:27 PM  

That's fabulous, really. Last holiday season, we made this huge attempt to have more traditions like this as a part of our holidays. It was great and fun, but at times I also found that the rules and the restrictions and the process were a little daunting. It was worth it when I got it done though.

AND, you're so organized and on top of things! I'm impressed.

Karen December 1, 2008 at 9:38 PM  

That sounds rather complicated for just an anonymous gesture, but Eva will absolutely love your generosity. You're doing a good thing. Very good. You make me proud, and humbled.

Michelle December 1, 2008 at 10:44 PM  

Anymommy - Somehow, I have a feeling it isn't quite so easy to do something like this where you're at now.... And umm organized? yeah... it's due and I'm running to the grocery store to get the gift card I forgot to buy. Yep, I'm organized ;)

Karen - That's exactly what I thought, too. Whatever happened to the tree where you grab a name, buy a gift and drop it off? That's what I was used to! Next time I'll read the instructions before I sign up ;)

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