I usually start asking the family in November for a list of what they want for Christmas. It takes a while and some prodding before it materializes. I also send a list, mostly of books;asking for diamonds always seems like poor taste.So, this year I have my lists and did quite a bit on-line. Then, I did the stockings. But I still feel like I don't have the wow gift, the one not on the list, that will surprise and delight. And you know what, it is not going to happen.
Last week I spent days fielding requests for help with Christmas dinners and presents from people who have very little. One woman in particular stood out and I cannot forget her. She is a single mom, three children, works at a minimum wage job. She called and I was able to put together gifts for her children, but I didn't have any clothes. She came to pick up the items and we started talking; no one else was in the office. She works at a dry cleaner and recently started getting food stamps so she no longer came to our food pantry for food. She said she was grateful for the job she had, since so many people are out of work. Her landlord told her she had to move out in January because her daughter was moving back and needs the apartment. What her kids really needed were warm clothes, since it is much cooler than usual, so I gave her a gift card she could shop. I felt so bad for her and thought that my response was so inadequate, a band-aid on a severed artery. And that is why I just can't shop for those wow gifts. My family has an overabundance, beginning with warm clothes and no worries about finding a place to live that we can afford and ending with jobs that support us comfortably every day.
So, what do I want? I want to figure out how to help this woman, her family and all the other people who come to us for help. But not with band-aids.