Friday, December 14, 2012

That's The Spirit

Yesterday morning I walked the kids into school so that I could also drop off the toys we were donating to the Toys for Tots drive.  Hands full of backpacks and toys and lunches the kids dragged me over to look at all the school's decorations. I tried to fake my enthusiasm. After the last few crazy days my Christmas spirit was seriously waning.

"Mom!  The tree still has a few stars on it!  Can we go get one?"  Ben asked pointing to the giving tree.

This year, as every year, the school adopted a few families from our area that are especially in need this time of year.  Each star on the tree represents a gift for each member of those families.  Sometimes it is an item the family member needs (grocery store gift cards) and other items are fun presents.  The star features the gender and age of the family member and what they are wishing for.  It is humbling to see little kids asking for hats and gloves, or leggings.  Puts a lump in my throat how much we take for granted.

"Let's see what is left on the tree." I answered.

The kids and I marched up the steps and looked at the almost bare tree. With only a day or two left to donate there were less than half a dozen stars on the tree. We glanced at the stars together. An 8 year old boy asked for a bible. Love that.  I took that star off the tree.

"Mom!  This one is for the mom and no one has taken it. Everyone is getting stuff for the kids, but what if this mom doesn't get anything?  Can we PLEASE get it? Please?  What if she doesn't get anything???"  Joey said, thick with emotion.

I looked at the star.  The mother (of 5) was asking for a bedding set (colors of gray, white, and yellow). Oh dear.  Must have been one of the more expensive things on the tree.  I imagined the mom hesitating to even ask for it, but was probably prodded to write it down anyway by the volunteers taking the requests.

"Oh boy.  That is a big item, Joey.  And those colors are going to be pretty hard to find in the one day we have left to shop for it."  I told him gently.

"PLEASE, mom.  Moms work so hard and they don't ask for stuff much.  What if she doesn't get anything for Christmas?" he begged as my other three children began to join in the pleading.

"Well, I'll go to the store and see what I can find, okay?  Let's leave the star on the tree for now."  I answered trying to usher him into his classroom without giving him a definite answer.

Joey nodded and I quickly got the littles to their respective classrooms, dropped off the toys in the Toys  for Tots bin, handed in the our coins collected for the folks at the retirement home (they are always running short on coins for their card games), and jumped back in my car.

My first stop was Walmart.  I scanned the aisles for a nice bedding set in gray, white, and yellow.  None to be found.  Nothing even close.

"Oh well. I tried." I told myself. I'm off the hook.

But on my way home I couldn't get Joey's pleas out of my mind.  What if the mom didn't get anything?  This woman has five children.  A nice bedding set is not too much to ask.  It nagged me and nagged me.

When I got home I jumped on the computer.  I scoured the websites for gray, white, and yellow bedding sets.  I was so paranoid picking out such a personal item and I poured over each item.  Too masculine?  Too feminine?  Too dark?  Too wild?  Too busy?  

In the end it didn't matter if I liked them or not.  None of the sets would get here in time.  Right when I was about to give up I saw something on the Target website.  I immediately called Target to see if they had it in stock.  After being disconnected 4 times, and calling back 4 times, I finally discovered that they had it.  I put it on hold so it wouldn't be sold before I could get there.

After the kids got home from school, and the homework was all done, I packed them up in the car and off to Target we went.

Unfortunately, when we finally got all the way over there I discovered that the "blanket" I had set aside was so thin it was almost like a sheet.  It just wouldn't do. I was beginning to wonder what I had gotten myself into.

I dragged the kids back to the bedding department with me and we searched and searched for an acceptable replacement.  Way in the back corner of the department was a gray, white, and yellow comforter.  It was perfect.  Not too feminine, not too masculine, not too wild, not too dark. It wasn't a bedding set (just a comforter and shams), but I found a matching bedskirt and gray sheets that went perfectly together.

"It's so soft, mom!  And just the colors she asked for!" a thrilled Tommy said as he hugged me.

The kids and I happily made our way to the cashier.

The whole ride home the kids chatted about how they hoped the mom would like her gift.  They talked about how Christmas is a time of giving and helping others as Jesus would want us to do.  They reminded each other of the real meaning of Christmas and how the more you give the more you receive.  They felt great.

After hearing "I want" from my kids more often than I would have liked these last few weeks, it sure was good to hear that they still get it.  The focus of Christmas is in the right spot.  They get what we have been trying to tell them all along.

They are kids, and they get caught up in the fun aspect of Christmas just like everyone else, but in the end they really know what it is all about.

Christmas spirit restored!

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Tabor said...

You are a really special mother to have raised these children with such terrific values. The gift you have given them will always the truth of Christmas. Love this!!

Bijoux said...

Wow! I'm proud of YOU for hanging in there and not giving up the search! I'm not sure I could have done all that in one day. I will admit to passing over the gas cards and grocery cards on our giving tree at church, so that I can go pick up a cute toy or clothes for a little one. It turns into being about me then, doesn't it? Trying to do better..........

Kat said...

Bijoux- That's the thing. I was looking for excuses not to do it. I I half-heartedly looked for it at the store and then was gonna leave it at that. But there was this nagging in my head and I kept hearing my Joey's emotion filled voice.
I've learned not to ignore my inner nagging. I'm glad I listened to it this time.
And I'm glad my kids have such sweet hearts.

Anonymous said...

Now THAT is loving your neighbor. My hat is off to you, Kat.

Suldog said...

Magnificent story. It not only helped restore your Christmas spirit, but it also gave mine a boost. Give your kids a hug for ME.

Kerri Farley said...

Brought tears to my eyes ..... God Bless You!

Kat said...

Kerri- God bless my kids! It was all because of them. Proud of those little turkeys. said...

Oh, Kat...why does NONE of this surprise me?? You are raising your children to become little echoes of their momma. (and I'm sure, their papa, too) This whole event has to make you see you are doing a WHOLE lot of things right, mama!!! Makes me see once again, why you are one of my favorite people!! xoxoxoxox

Unknown said...

Wow! Good for you. That is the gift we are really giving our kids, isn't it? The gift of compassion and love for others. Good job, Momma!

Cyndy Bush said...

I just love you.
And yes - THAT is the true spirit of Christmas!!

dawn klinge said...

Oh, I loved reading this. I just want to hug your kids too. You are doing a great job as a mom. They obviously get what Christmas is all about.

lime said...

well dang it now, i need to wipe my eyes. you are obviously doing something very right to have 2 boys so concerned about making sure that mama got a gift she'd really like. bless joey and tommy. squeeze them extra whne you hug them next for me.

betty said...

I came over from Lime's blog; I'm so glad I did. It is so neat to read this and the generosity and compassion you are teaching your children! So glad you found what you were looking for in the comforter for the mom; I am sure she will love it! May you and yours have a joyous Christmas season!


Hilary said...

Big hugs to your wonderful children and for their mom who raised them right. I'm sure their dad had something to do with that as well but I'll leave those hugs up to you. ;)

Mom24 said...

So beautiful Kat. Thank you so much for sharing it, truly a beautiful thing to read about tonight amidst so much sadness. Enjoy those wonderful children of yours. said...

That is so sweet. Its great to hear such things come out of there mouths isnt it? Glad you have such great kiddos.

Logophile said...

Zipping by courtesy of a link from Lime and so glad I clicked through!

Definitely a holiday story I can get into. Your kiddos sound amazing and it is clear where they get it from.
Merry Christmas to you all!

Jeni said...

I can't think of any better way to restore one's Christmas Spirit than being able to do for that Mom what you have done. Thank your son for being so persistent as it shows he has very good and strong values and empathy. Peace and have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year! said...

Ok, this made me cry. How lovely and sweet are your children? And I am touched at the effort you put in, too. Merry Christmas, Kat.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Too much Kat! I'm an emotional wreck over here. Bless you and your sweet, sweet family. I bet this will be the Christmas that stands out above all the rest for them. How I miss having "angel trees".

Dianne said...

I love your kids
and you

I'm picturing that Mom making her beautiful new bed
thank you

congrats on POTW

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson