Thursday, December 4, 2008

Season for Giving

Today I was reading a friends blog about the theft in GR of the Angel Tree gifts from 2 places and I was reminded of an experience I had last year.

I was working at the tanning salon and we had a huge box for Toy for Tots. My little North Muskegon salon pretty much saw the same 13 clients every day. Only 1 client actually brought in gifts. So that left us employees to contribute to make it look better. An empty Toys for Tots box is pretty depressing.

I was talking to Summer about it, telling her about the kids in our town, maybe even in her school, that would not get much or anything for Christmas. We had $20. She thought it would be good to go to the dollar store because we could get SO much stuff for the empty box. So off we went, and she spent so much time agonizing over her picks. Imagining the kids who would love to get the Disney princess figurines or some Winnie the Pooh coloring books. It was a very sweet and humbling experience. I wish I had had more to give.

The next day I bring our gifts in and fill the bottom of the box. It feels good, ya know? A client I know well comes in and we are chit-chatting when she peeks in the box and scrunches her nose."Uggh! My girls would be so mad if they got those crappy gifts! What a bunch of junk." Can I just tell you that I should not have been surprised, BUT I WAS. How can someone be so, so...I don't even have words. I stumble around myself for a split second and mutter something about how kids with nothing would be very happy with almost anything. I instantly found myself embarrassed. Which then made me sad. I should have called her out on it! Wouldn't she feel like an idiot."Yeah, my 6 year old daughter picked those gifts out, so that she could bring a smile to the face of 20 kids and not just 1." But no. I was afraid of offending someone I had known since high school. Because I felt inferior. Because I was afraid of scaring off a potential sale. Which she NEVER did. It was a learning experience to say the least. I will never again be made to feel like that. We can all be proud of ANY amount of ANYTHING we can give. I wonder how much she gave last year? And I don't know about anyone else, but you could give my kids a toilet paper roll with googlie eyes and they would be happy. A little treat from the dollar store is a treasure! No preschooler should feel "above" a gift of any kind. But I guess thats in the way MOST people raise their children. To be appreciative. And honestly, most of us are 1 tragedy away from being in a situation when we may need to accept charity. I will be keeping that in mind this season. How anyone can make judgements on donations is beyond me.

This was just a "bonus" post today. So cheerful, huh?

Still on the December Daily, its just that its still early and not much has happened yet!


Mandy said...

reading that makes me sick! I can't believe someone could be so cold. We always give to the giving tree at mike's work. (I think that is what it is called) When we just had Ryan he would pick a boy around the same age, last year we did two. One boy, and one girl! This year mike forgot to get a name, so we are donating to toys for tots. It doesn't have to cost much, and you spending 20 bucks on someone you don't even know is wondeful. Money is tight around this time of year, and to think of others in need wonderful! PISS (yes PISS) ON HER!! Great post, made me realize how fortunate I am.

nothing has happened at your house yet....hmmm...must have been the nyquil for lunch!

hien k. d. said...

Jennie -

i am so thankful that people try to give to other people that they don't know at this time of year. when my family first came here, we didn't have anything. the church that sponsored us really had to do a lot of things to help us out and we were fortunate that so many people were so kind and giving. i never forget it. too bad for those small-minded people who don't see that it's the kind intentions and the gift of giving that we grow up to remember - and hardly ever the actual toy. besides, kids find joy and treasure in so many things - just having something wrapped up is so much fun. :)

Jennifer Witham Buck / Graceful Expressions said...

It is so true about the saying of "it's the thought that counts" and that year you and Summer were so thoughtful and I am sure brought smiles to 20+ kids (and their families) because of your gesture. Even if it lasted just a few minutes, they had a moment to unwrap a present that was chosen and given to them. It does not matter what the value is.
I probably would have been in shock/stunned to say something like you were, but you should not let that affect your gesture and letting it make you feel inferior -that feeling is left for that person. I feel sorry for people like that. It so does not matter what is on the outside.
Thanks for keeping everyone on their toes and sharing that story -it just proves how important small guestures are and how much they are needed in this world.

Lea said...

Tom and I have always given to Toys for Tots and this year we're doing the Angel Tree at work and a shoebox gift giving at church. We even had the boys go through their toys and choose which items they no longer played with. We explained to Lukas we were going to give them to some little kids who may not get much for xmas. He was SO sweet about it!! We're giving them to Goodwill but we know people will be shopping there this year for presents. It's tough - especially this year. ANYTHING people give - even if it's only their TIME is a wonderful thing!!

Kristin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristin said...

You are raising a very good girl with GREAT morals and love. What more could you ask for? I think it is wonderful that she has a heart and a "mind set" to think about others and make sure 20 people were thought about at Christmas. Don't let some narrow minded woman ruin that for you. Also, don't feel bad about not having a "come back"...I would have done the same thing and got home and thought about 100+ things I could have said. Learn from it and move are doing something right, Summer is a great kid!!! That is what counts!!

Jodi said...

You are right on...unfortunately, I would've done things your way, and I, too, would later feel terrible that I didn't step up. Certainly don't question inferiority. You are obviously way superior to this person! Great job raising grateful, giving children.