In searching my mind for something to get for Elle’s first Christmas gift, I realized she NEEDS nothing and wants for NOTHING. She is so terribly fortunate to have so many people who love her and spoil her with gifts of toys, clothing, jewelry…long before she was even born. Since that wonderful day in October, she’s received more gifts from people who, because they love her Dad and/or I, they want to gift things to her.
Again, every time we receive something I am overcome with the realization that she is – we are – so very, very lucky.
So, I got her a few little gifts that I’m keeping a secret from Jon so there’s at least an element of surprise to the opening of the gifts. I’ve got some objects to put into her stocking, too. But, I probably spent $30-40 on everything that she’ll open on Christmas morning from her Mom and Dad. I could, of course, wrap up the extra canisters of formula, diapers, bottles, etc., but that’s not Christmas material and those are things she NEEDS, not gifts.
I have been reading other blogs of new moms searching for a tradition to begin with their children at their first Christmas and I was feeling slightly guilty that I didn’t have one to begin for Elle and us. I even asked Jon if he thought we should begin some sort of tradition this year – that we’d lose our window of making it an “EVERY YEAR” tradition if we didn’t begin this year. Practical Jon said that we could just fake it and come up with something next year and SAY we did it every year.
But then, I remembered my Empty Box thought that I mentioned here a few weeks ago. And to me, this is what I want our tradition to be.
So, allow me to digress for just a moment…
I have loved the music of Harry Chapin since I was little. “Cats in the Cradle” was the first song I knew all the words to, because my Dad would put the record on and turn it up. I still love Harry Chapin and, at one point, I listened to an interlude on a CD where he spoke at one of his concerts.
“A child is born. The first thing they need is air. We’re fouling up our air, but very few people are dying of asphyxiation. The second thing they need is water, very few people are dying of thirst. The third thing is food. There is enough food to feed everyone on this planet twice over. Why, why, why are they going hungry?”
Since then, and working in the food service industry, I understand the need so many folks have for food, when they can’t provide this for themselves for WHATEVER the reason may be.
I look at the food I toss out when I clean out the fridge and get a little ashamed of myself.
“It is easy to sit in the sunshine and talk to the man in the shade; it is easy to sit in a well-trimmed boat and point out the places to wade.”
To me, this means it’s easy to point out all the wrong in our world, to do nothing more than listen to the news reports of folks that could use a bit of help. It’s much harder, however, to stand up and do something – whether through donation of time or money or both – to help others. I don’t know exactly how I’ll make sure Elle understands how to think outside of herself as she grows up, but I’m starting here, this year, our little Christmas tradition.
So, for Elle’s Christmas present, I donated the equivalent of 600 meals to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. That means that, potentially, Elle will positively affect the lives of 600 people in our communities because, instead of that money going to buy her ANOTHER toy or ANOTHER object…600 people will, for a moment, NOT be hungry.
Think about this: Nationally, 1 out of 12 children goes to bed hungry every night. In the county we live in, over 88,000 people are “Food Insecure“. Of those 88,000, nearly 31,000 are children. Like Elle. And not like her at the same time. My hope is that hunger and wondering where her next meal come from will never be a thought that should cross her mind. But I hope that she’ll think of others who MUST contemplate these things. And to try my best to show her how fortunate she is, and how easy it is to help others with the resources we’re blessed with…this year I donated on her behalf.
I hope that down the road, as she grows up, that we’ll be able to work together addressing the issues of hunger among our neighbors and communities. But this year, in her empty box, will be the first of many letters explaining that because of her, 600 people will not want for a meal.
Merry Christmas 2011, Elle.