A few years ago my local grocery had a tree with cards for Christmas gift requests from people who were homeless or nearly so.
For many good reasons, I’ve struggled financially in my life but when I read the individual requests it shifted my perspective: winter gloves; a man’s razor for shaving; socks; barrettes or a hair tie for a girl; a scarf and hat.
I have or can easily buy these things. It doesn’t matter if they’re old, or from a thrift store, or unstylish. I can still use or buy them. I don’t need to hope that someone will read my request and give me a pair of socks.
These few examples shifted my perspective on my own financial situation. I no longer accept bag credit when I fill my cloth bags with produce, but instead ask that it’s donated because my “need” diminished to slightly more than zero that day.
Some of my favorite parts of the season are the lights, spending time with those I love, and going to the local toy store to buy toys (well, usually art supplies and a stuffed animal) for children I’ll never recognize though I apply the care I use for my loved ones.
I then drop them off at Toys for Tots to be distributed to children who get little material support and fewer gifts that may provide comfort or allow them to express themselves.
When I was little I was inseparable from my stuffed grey squirrel…Grayee was my Linus blanket. When I was seven we moved and Grayee disappeared. Sobbing, I begged my mom to call the police because “the moving men stole Grayee.”
It was more than ten years before I could laugh at the idea that these grown men would have stolen my battered squirrel, but Grayee had been my comfort and companion. I hope my gifts provide the comfort I got from Grayee…and they’re never lost.