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Monday, December 7, 2009

Saving The Holidays - Be One of Santa's Elves

This post is a partial re-post from last year. As the holidays approach please try to do what you can to bring holiday cheer to those less fortunate than yourself.

Now is the time to make your plans. If you work in an office and your employer has corporate matching, ask if your department or your floor can participate in Catholic Charities Adopt A Family or a similar organization that provides gifts for families less fortunate. Chip in together to adopt 1 family or more, whatever you collectively can afford. If you cannot afford to chip in money, offer to be the designated shopper who takes the list from Catholic Charities and plans the shopping according to the funds collected. Heaven knows there are a lot of people who just hate shopping and will welcome you volunteering for this task. In addition to Catholic Charities, many malls have gift trees, many local newspapers have gift drives. Be on the lookout for opportunities.

Here is my re-post from last year:

Christmas 1968, my Father had been in and out of the hospital with back problems. He had just had major back surgery. Back then it was a very big deal, he was in the hospital at least a month. My Mother didn’t drive, but she dutifully took 3 buses each way to visit him daily while we were at school. On her half a mile walk home from the bus stop she would stop at the grocery store and purchase just what she could carry and what she could afford.

My Mother didn’t work outside the home, so we had to live on my Father’s small disability check. We were forewarned not to expect much for Christmas. I’m not sure if it was my Mother’s not so subtle way of letting us know that year was different, or maybe she was so tired from her bus travel, but my Mother didn’t put up the 7 foot artificial tree. That year we had a 4 foot silver aluminum tree that my mother put on the drum table in the picture window. It was truly a hideous tree and it forever marked a very different Christmas for us.

One night a few days before Christmas our front doorbell rang. My Father was still in the hospital and my Mother wondered who on earth could be ringing our bell after dinnertime on a cold snowy night. My Mother didn’t want to open the door, but I kept imploring that she HAD to open it because as I peeked through the picture window I saw it was Santa Claus! She finally did open the door, but wouldn’t let Santa in the house. He left 2 very large boxes on our front porch. Each box was 3 foot square, about 10 inches tall. One box was full of all kinds of food. There was cereal, flour, sugar, roasts, chickens, pasta and all sorts of canned goods. The other box had candy canes, chocolates, some clothing, hats, scarfs and mittens, and some coloring books. My Mother, proud as she was, kept calling back to Santa to take back the boxes, but he waved her off and disappeared into the night.

That Christmas was very lean. It was the year my sister and I got our first Monopoly game and Mini-Mod dolls instead of Barbies. At the time we were both a bit disheartened by the lack of Christmas loot, but as the years have passed I have to say that it was the one of the most memorable Christmases of my life. I was 7 years old and Santa came to my house and made my Mother cry. I don’t think I’d ever seen her cry before that. All that food helped us get by until my Father was able to go back to work. It was truly a Blessing.

We later found out that Santa was the brother-in-law of my parent’s neighbors, Tim and Terry. They said they had gone door to door and collected money from the neighbors and purchased all of those items. Terry knew my mother wasn’t going to ask for help and she knew she wouldn’t accept charity from her neighbors. A heartfelt note from Terry in one of the boxes told my Mother it was alright, it didn’t mean she owed anyone anything. It didn’t mean she was weak. It meant she was cared about. It meant she was loved.

Do you know someone who is struggling, whether because of illness, disability or unemployment, or perhaps a single mother struggling on her own?
There’s still time.
It’s not too late to save someone’s Christmas.
It wouldn’t take much. Maybe a bag or two of groceries, or a grocery store gift card and a couple of toys.
A Santa suit isn’t required.
Just a bit of cash and a big dose of holiday spirit.
Happy Holidays!

Lola's Diner


StaceyC4 said...

What a great message! You can't re-post this sort of thing enough. I hope that we all take something from this and pay it forward.

Auntie E said...

We did a lot of giving to the needy this year. went shopping for 12 people in the community and gave $$$ to a local Christmas fund. I still haven't done any family shopping and I do not know if I will.
Just not in that mood. Our tree might be bare underneath it. But I am Counting on Santa this year.

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