There are plenty of great causes, and plenty of worthy agencies to donate to around the holidays.
This is the story of the company where I work, and what we have been doing every year to help a family during the holidays.
For 12 of the past 14 years we have adopted a family for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m not going to go all moral, political or religious here, just say that some people have more than others, and sharing is not a bad thing.
10 years ago we got a family with six children. I say “got” because we have always relied on a local agency to provide a family for us. For many years we went through the Chamber of Commerce. One year we worked with a local hospital. This year we went through the Y. 10 years ago five of the six kids wanted Gameboys. And we got them.
With the downturn in the economy we faced the same problems other businesses faced. We are smaller now. Our adopted family is smaller – mother, father and three children.
It was very interesting. We were told, in somewhat hushed tones, that only the father was working. Well I talked to the mother. She told me they had made a conscious decision that she would stay home so that their children always had the support of a parent and were never left alone. She said they knew it would be harder financially and they decided it was worth it. Her job is to help her children grow into fine adults and if they have to struggle a bit, so be it.
I am in love with this family. I love that everyone in the family loves to read. I love that the older girl’s favorite colors are the same as her moms, and that the younger boy loves super heroes.
This is a books, Barbies and X-Man family with a caring and present mother, and a father who works so hard, his kids are sleeping by the time he gets home. The only family day they have is Sunday.
When I talked to the Mother I asked her what she and her husband would like for Christmas. I told her that they deserved to have something too. She told me that what she wanted most of all was a dinner for just her and her husband. That in all the time they’d been married they had never gone out to dinner, just the two of them. Yes, one of their mothers can watch the children, so that is what they’re going to have. Someplace delicious. Someplace fun. Someplace near their house. Just for the two of them. Part of my to-do list this weekend is to go get the gift certificate.
When we meet next Friday to deliver the gifts, the groceries, the gift cards, cash and everything else we can bring, it will be with blessings on both sides.
I don’t coordinate this to make myself feel better. Every year I agonize, worry and spend way too much personally because everyone brings their gifts to work on the very last day so I don’t think we will have enough. Every year I email, remind, cajole, and God help me wrap! I would rather stick needles in my eyes than wrap presents but I’ll do it for our family.
And now I’m off to go up and down the aisles at the grocery store to pick up things I take for granted but not everyone can. Real maple syrup. Good olive oil. Kiss My Face soap. Little, luxurious things that are enjoyable by all.
Stay warm. Have a wonderful holiday season. As my son says “Happy whatever doesn’t offend you”.
Tobi Cogswell is a 3-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. Her fifth and latest chapbook is “Lit Up” by Kindred Spirit Press. She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.sprreview.com). She forgot to light the menorah a few nights but did not forget the holiday family. She thinks that will be okay.