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?