Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Giving Tree

I've just returned from a volunteer meeting for my church's Giving Tree. Tonight we had to assemble the tags to be placed on the tree. The list of names are made up of local charities and some of the church's own Samaritan families. Typical giving tree stuff, I assume.

I sat next to a, let's see, how do I put this...a large, Italian, Catholic woman. I think that should be enough, right? Anyways, her task was sticking the labels on the tags and as she did, she read what was on them. And she commented and commented and commented. None were nice comments. Did I forget to mention this was a giving tree through our church???

Her biggest surprise was to see a gift request for an IPod Shuffle or a $50 gift certificate to Best Buy. Maybe, at first, one might think that was a little odd but the request was for a 14 year old boy. I pointed this out but it made no difference.

Soon after she came upon a request for gift certificates for McDonald's. Her comment...."now, this is more like it." Seriously? This is Christmas. This is a Giving Tree. This is a way to help and give someone less fortunate a give kids a Christmas.

This made me so upset tonight. Yes, an IPod request may raise an eyebrow but think about it. This is Christmas and this is a teenage boy. Obviously his family is in a position where gifts are not possible. It's not his fault but yet he has to go to school and be with friends that probably get whatever they want. It's not his fault and he should ask for this. This is Christmas. It's his wish, that's what Christmas is for kids.

A few weeks ago the church called me and asked me if I wanted our family to be on the tags. We are a Samaritan family. We've been helped by the church and they periodically check in on us. I declined but that could have been my kid's tag. I know what it's like to be poor at Christmas. It's a horrible, horrible feeling. For two years in a row I had no idea how we were going to buy gifts for the kids. Sure, we could try to explain to them that there was no money but it was heart wrenching enough to have to deal with it internally, there was no way we could have told the kids. Had I known the Giving Tree was an option for us back then I would have totally, 100% jumped all over it. And I wouldn't have felt guilty about it.

By God's miracle, we were able to give our kids a decent Christmas both years. This Giving Tree may be these kids, these families miracle. Shame on this woman for trying to take that away from a kid and from parents that want nothing more than a Christmas morning for their kids.

Shame on her. And she calls herself a Catholic.

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