There seems to be a pattern in my life where I whine about things like sleepless nights then something happens to remind me how very lucky I am, and that there’s always somebody who struggles more than I do. We may not know it when we see them, but they’re out there.
I help in D3’s class at the end of the day on Fridays and last week while we were waiting for D2 to get out of school we decided to check out the “giving tree” by the office. It’s a tree like you see all over this time of year where you can choose gifts to buy for families in need.
Every year, we each pick a gift. I pick a mom and one for SG and the girls always pick kids about their age and we make an evening of shopping for them. I think it’s good that they see how fortunate we are and how good it feels to do something for somebody else. To make sure that other kids get their holiday wishes granted.
We usually spend some time and look through all of the requests to see what we want to buy. In the past it’s been toys, slippers, sleds, that kind of thing. But this year, among the little slips asking for teddy bears and legos, were requests for toothpaste, shampoo and toilet paper. Basic purchases that we take for granted but that, in this economy, others might need to put off when it’s hard enough to afford food.
There were 2 boys D2’s age that were looking at the same time we were and one of them saw the toothpaste and was just as saddened. He looked at his friend and said “Dude, that’s not right! People should have that kind of stuff”. D3 looked at me and said, “He’s right Mom, they should!” I couldn’t agree more!
The requests are completely anonymous but they are all from our school. They are our neighbors and our children’s classmates. People we see at school functions and have no idea what they’re going through. It was another wake up call that unless you are living in their house, walking in their shoes, you just don’t know what the person standing next to you may be facing.
My choice this year was a mom who asked for gel inserts for her shoes. I always make sure a mom gets something because we all know they are the first to give up gifts so their children can have something. I picked up some comfy fuzzy socks and some good foot lotions to go with them. Given my year of chemo feet, I can appreciate how important it is to be comfortable.
I think we’ll also do a basket of basics like toothpaste and take it to the family resource center at school. I know that’s a place where people feel safe asking for help – they’re the ones who organize the tree. Maybe some who didn’t ask for the basics will feel ok about taking some if they’re available.
If you can afford it, please find a giving tree in your area. Or find a local food bank and donate anything you can no matter how small. Even a canned good or two add up if enough people contribute.
And if you need help, please ask. I know asking is hard, I personally suck at it but people are out there who want to do it. Let them.