This is the time of year when charities are in full force, trying to take advantage of the spirit of giving that is in full supply during the holiday season. Commercials are filled with reminders and ads making us aware of the poverty that exists outside our doors. Some of the ads get me choked up every single time, like Angel Tree for example. Tears usually fill my eyes as I am "taken back" to the memories of my own childhood Christmas memories.
My dad worked hard but only made about $5/hr and with a family of seven, that didn't stretch very far. So, most of my childhood, my parents depended upon government assistance, food stamps, etc. And when the holidays came they relied heavily on church donations and organizations like Angel Tree to provide the bulk of our Christmas cheer. Our parents would let us know that money was tight and we wouldn't have gotten any presents if it weren't for the church or organization who adopted our family. You might think that my parents shouldn't have said anything to us about where the gifts came from, but I'm glad my parents were honest with us. Being aware of the generosity of others affected me deeply and personally. I believe it made me a more grateful, generous adult.
When I was a little girl, I LOVED dolls. I especially loved the pretty porcelain ones. They usually have fancy dresses and the prettiest faces. I wanted to collect those more than anything, but they were definitely NOT in our price range. One of my most treasured Christmas presents came when I was about seven years old. I opened a box and found a pretty, fair skinned doll with brown hair, dressed like Little Red Riding Hood, complete with the hooded cape, but in baby blue instead of red. I knew she wasn't the expensive porcelain doll, she was only made of plastic, but she was the nicest doll I had ever owned. I loved her so much that I couldn't bear the thought messing her up by playing with her. So I immediately wrapped her in a garbage bag and put her in a safe place. As the years passed, I would take her out every now and then and play with her for a few minutes, but I always carefully wrapped her back up and returned her to her safe place. I still have her to this day. She's still wrapped in the garbage bag to this day. I still take her out every now and then and the emotions of that Christmas morning still flood my mind.
All of that to say, I don't know who my "Angels" were... but if I could, I'd want to thank them, and to be honest, that moment would probably include blubber of the worst kind, tears and snot and all. I'd thank them wholeheartedly for not only giving me the gifts they donated, but for setting the example of generosity that has changed my outlook on life.
Thank you, Angel Tree Ministries, and all who participate in giving to the less fortunate. You never know how a simple gift will impact the life of a little one. I hope to pass along that love of giving to my own children. Although, they don't know what it feels like to be hungry or go without, I hope they will be generous with the abundant blessings their life is full of.