Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tis the Season to Give

This is a repost of two Christmas posts I did in the past.  These were originally posted on my Vox Blog so they were likely missed by people here.

The Gift of Compassion

When I was in 4th grade, my family was poor.  My mom was on Maternity leave and the family’s sole income was from my step-dad.  He was a tree surgeon and work isn’t great in the winter time especially the messy Tennessee winters.  As a child, I didn’t realize just how poor we were.  I mean, I knew we didn’t have the things that other people had, but I was used to our standard of living.  I am sure that I had no idea about my family’s economic situation, but now I know and I know that it was way more screwed up than being out of work. 

My mother, knowing that she was not going to be able to buy us much of anything for Christmas, gave our names to the Salvation Army for the Angel Tree.  The only toy I had asked for was a Transformer named Slingshot.  I wanted it so bad.

On Christmas morning I woke up and under the tree was the only present I remember getting that year or for some of the years around it.  I had Slingshot.  I opened him, transformed him a few times, and then put him on my dresser.  I don’t think I ever played with him again.  I didn’t want him to get broken, and I didn’t want my then 6 year old brother getting a hold of it. 

I believe my mom told me that it was an Angel Tree gift when I got it.  I don’t think I fully appreciated it at the time.  I recognized it as nice and was happy to get what I wanted.  As the years passed and I was faced with other small Christmases, I grew to realize just how nice the gesture was.  I have since bought items for Angel Trees, Toys for Tots, Book Trees, and for poorer children that I knew personally.  That one Christmas twenty-one years ago has inspired a need in me to want to help people at this time in year.  The person that picked my Angel gave the gift of compassion as well as a simple transformer.  It is something I will never forget and something that I will never be able to repay. 

The Gift of Compassion II

Last year, I talked about the gift of compassion, so I though I would share another story this year.

I was in 7th grade.  My mom had been split from my sisters dad for about 6 months.  We lived in a trailer park about 5 trailers down from my sister's dad.  My mom had been having some problems and lost her state job and was now solely waiting tables at a bar at night.  One night while she was out, my brother and I got into her closet looking for gifts.  We found some invisible markers and a plastic Batman motorcycle helmet.  We didn't think much about it and didn't realize that we had found all of our Christmas presents for the year.  We may have gotten something else, but if we did I don't remember it.  It was a very bad Christmas for us. 

At about noon we all walked my sister down to her dad's trailer so that she could open her presents there.  My sister's dad had on okay job making okay money and a roommate to help split the cost on the already dirt cheap trailer.  Needless to say that my three year old sister was going to make out like a champ. When we got there, the tree was loaded with gifts, but there was a gift apiece for my brother and me.  My nine year old brother, who loved Legos, go the Lego pirate ship.  It was totally awesome and he could put it together without instructions by the end of the day.  I got a Nintendo Entertainment Center.  It was the one that came with Mario and duck hunt and I was in heaven.

All these years later, I am sure that my brother and I thanked him for the gifts, but I don't think we ever thanked him for not just saving Christmas, but making it one of our best Christmases ever.  I mean, there have been years since when I got way more gifts, or way more expensive gifts, but these gifts were well thought out, unexpected, and at a very dark time in our lives.  Although I know you won't be reading this, Thank you Bobby.


DEZMOND said...

very touching stories, Budd! I totally understand your childhood. My family was poor as well, but unlike you I was always aware of it, which is a very bad thing for a kid.
The good thing is that we are probably both aware, as adults, how valuable some things are and we are probably more responsible than some other people who grew up in wealth.

Budd said...

Dez- I think I knew we were poor, but I don't think I realized how bad it was. As an adult, I kind of looked back and ask how I could have lived like that, and then again, I think I had a pretty good childhood. I remember lots of good times.
My kids are totally spoiled, but not nearly as bad as those around them. They don't really ask for much, though.

Pearl said...

That was truly lovely, Budd.