Our department has a tradition of adopting a family each Christmas. Unfortuantely, this year, when I put it up for a vote, I was floored. A third responded. And of that third, only two said a definite "yes."
The economy was cited as an issue for those declining or on the fence, and I wonder. Here we are in a profession that pays respectably, yet we can't cobble together gifts to make a family's season brighter?
It's not easy asking to be on the receiving end. For families who step forward, they simply want their children to have the things they need (clothing) and a small sense of normalcy (every other kid got something under the tree). I should know. We were there last year.
I can tell you also, that after pouring over families' "applications" each year, these are families who truly do need help. Sometimes they are asking for simple things, like dishes or diapers or a gift card for gas. Sometimes, the kids just want to be normal, asking for a video game or hot toy. And they trust that someone will give them an opportunity for once to forget that things aren't right.
But the thing is, we all can make family's holidays - and any time of year - just a little bit brighter. Two lunches not eaten out can be spent on a shirt for a child. A pizza avoided, a pair of shoes. One less toy for our child could be breakfast for someone else. A week's worth of Starbucks could help feed a family for a few days.
So maybe stretching outside of our comfort zone is just the thing we need. Maybe we buy less this year for our families. Maybe we buy more thoughtfully with the dollars we spend. Or maybe we invest all that time that would be spent shopping into time with our loved ones.
But that little gift of ourselves - those small sacrifices we make - might make a difference beyond measure.
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