So I know there are going to be a lot of posts about the holidays and people thinking to themselves “how can we be thankful?” “ We are living in an evil world.” I too can be a cynic when it comes to the holidays and feeling the “cheery” spirit. But hear me out on this story because it shows the generosity and kindness of the season and something I will never forget. 

    The holidays were always tough at my house, I did not grow up in a wealthy family by any means. My family would probably be described as the “poor working class” by today's standards. Families in general experience stress during the holiday season and that stress was definitely present that year in my household. 

    My parents were getting divorced and as a young girl I would face my first holiday season without both my parents. My dad was unemployed at the time and I am sure the stress of that weighed heavy on my mom. She was always frugal and somehow managed to make previous birthdays and Christmas’s seem magical. I know she struggled to pay for the presents that were carefully displayed under the tree. I was perceptive enough to know that things were going on between them but I don’t think the reality hit me until I thought of the holidays. The divorce had made money tight for mom and the burden of the bills weighed on her. 

      I worried that Christmas wouldn’t come to my house that year. I know a stupid thing to worry about considering, but I was six and my family situation had really upset me. Christmas seemed like the only positive thing to look forward to. As the bills piled up in the mailbox and on the kitchen table it seemed like I was right. I had no idea the amount of saving my mom had done to make that Christmas a reality. She had always worked two jobs on and off to make extra money. But this year she managed to work two jobs with long hours to save for the holidays. We didn’t order out, all of our meals were made. We said goodbye to cable that year so that we could put that money to better use. I remember rolling coins to deposit in the bank for extra grocery money. I know my mom had gone without eating meals to ensure I had milk for my cereal or lunch money for school. She made so many sacrifices for me and still does to this day.

     Christmas morning I woke up and I went slowly tentatively to the railing above our living room. I gasped in shock  as I peered down at the tree with its beautiful lights on and the presents. I was so surprised I think I started to cry. I was so thankful that I didn’t even want to touch them for fear that it was a dream. The weeks leading up to the holiday had been filled with anxiety and sadness, I was afraid it would never feel like Christmas again. That we would never be a family. My mom being her wonderful, generous, loving, incredible self had known this. She pulled off the most amazing miracle Christmas that any child could ask for. So when I start to feel a little “bahumbug” or cynical I remember this Christmas and I am thankful. I am thankful for my mom and for her making probably the most traumatic time in my life a joyful one. 

     But that is not the end of this story. Years later I was walking with my friends in the mall when I saw a donation box off to the side with the Toys for Tots logo on it. Standing next to the box were several men dressed in uniform collecting toys. When I asked about the foundation it struck me on a personal level. The man said“ we donate toys to less fortunate families so that the children can have a joyful Christmas.” I thought about how lucky I had been that year that my mom had been able to save. But for many families those opportunities are not always available. I decided that I wanted to provide gifts to children that inspired and gave them hope as my mom had done for me. I have continued the tradition of donating to this charity ever since. I truly believe that kindness is like a ripple small at first but then as it grows outward it spreads.

If anyone would like to learn more about this charity please click on the link below.  http://www.toysfortots.org/default.aspx

 

Published by Kaitlin Buckley