Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Giving

I feel like I'm a jumble of thoughts so bear with me! We're all ready for Christmas. I think. Well, a few more gifts to buy and still have to do all the wrapping, but mostly ready. Abel's dad is still my problem case. I have one idea but Abel says that is our "backup" plan if he doesn't think of something better. I'll bet you $10 that we end up going with my idea.

The only other gifts we need to buy are for the three gift tags we selected from the tree at church on Sunday: a 4 year old boy, 11 year old girl and 16 year old boy. We're going to get each of them 1-2 clothing items, a hat, gloves and a book. We'll also get the little boy a new toothbrush and toothpaste and the older girl and boy some shampoo and/or body wash. Knowing me, I'm sure I'll pick-up a few extra things like crayons or a little bracelet, too. That 16 y.o., though, what else do I get for him? Maybe something will catch my eye.

I'm planning to wrap each item individually and then put them all into a large gift bag for each child. It is so hard to buy items for someone you don't know a thing about other than age, gender and clothing size, but I hope they like everything.

Last night at dinner Abel and I were talking about these gifts and then started talking about the first Christmas after we got engaged. Abel came over to my apartment one evening just about a week before Christmas with the name and address of a family he'd adopted (through some local agency). It was a mom and three kids. We had their ages and sizes. At first I was so mad at him: it was so close to Christmas and I had so much to do. On top of that, he didn't have a job! You see, we'd gotten engaged that past June and in December he found out he was being laid off (big down-turn in the economy...his lobbying firm lost several clients and he was the most junior staff member...sounds familiar!). He did have severance--he was being paid through March with health benefits. And we were getting married in May (little did we know it would be until August that he found a new job.) So, while things weren't tighter-than-usual at the time, we knew tight times were coming and were being very frugal. (Again, sounds familiar, doesn't it?!)

Right after work one evening I went out to Old Navy and Target and, with a pretty strict budget, got several gifts for each person. I remember buying a hat and gloves, PJs and a sweater or sweatshirt for each of the kids at Old Navy. Then at Target I bought them each a board game and book. We bought the mom some clothes, too. And, I think, gave her a grocery store gift card.
We wrapped everything up really nicely and drove it over to their apartment. Well, that was quite an adventure. The neighborhood, not surprisingly as it was in the Anacostia neighborhood of DC, was very very sketchy. It was pretty dark (though only early evening) and I remember being pretty nervous walking from our car to their apartment. (Luckily I was walking next to a big Mexican guy!!) When we got to the apartment building door, the buzzer didn't work! We had to wait (for what seemed like forever) until someone came out. We told them we were there to give gifts to the X Family and did they know them. They didn't but let us in anyway. We knocked on the door and the family was shocked--and delighted. They were so grateful. They had submitted their name but had no idea they had been "adopted". As we carried in the boxes, the kids were so excited.

I felt bad because I had hoped they'd think it was all from Santa. I guess that it was pretty naive of me to think that these kids still believed in Santa.

Even though that was one of the leanest Christmases for us personally, that experience was one of the most meaningful of all my Christmas memories.

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