>Sunday morning’s paper came and went. I didn’t really look through it other than to check the work I had done, just to see if it looked all right or if it had been edited incorrectly – or if I myself had screwed something up (which was highly unlikely since I am flawless, in general). In the process, I separated all the department store fliers, which I normally throw into a growing pile of recyclable shit in the corner of my living room, but kept this time. I decided it was best to save them until I had time to look them over, with Christmas coming up and all.
So tonight I sat down and started sifting through them. Target had a few things, but nothing really attention-grabbing. A local furniture store looked painfully overpriced. Sears, which I thought would showcase something wonderful for my dad, let me down, as did Belk’s in terms of the expectations I’d set forth for the place for my mother. Then came Toys ‘R Us … a sure-fire victory in the search for at least a few things for Kalista. I sighed after a few flips of the ad. Nothing. I looked up, worried about how I was going to find her something she’d like, and looked at the 11-by-14 framed photograph on the wall facing me. It was of her and my sister’s kids, a product of an hour-long affair at Wal-Mart at the end of last summer. Allyson stared at me.
What kind of Christmas are my sister’s three innocent children going to have? Sure, my mom and dad are going to shower them with many cool gifts, as will their father and his family, but will they have security? I imagined how it must feel to be in Allyson’s shoes, the feeling of being a little girl in her first year of school and not knowing what life’s going to bring on next. The fright of Mommy never being around in the evenings when it‘s time to unwind from a wound-up school day, the disappointment and wonder … is it my fault, she must ask herself and hopefully God. I never had to worry about a thing like that – couldn’t imagine what it’d be like if I did. Neither did my sister.
I remember being a kid around this time of the year and flipping through the giant JC Penny toy catalog with a sheet of notebook paper and a pen. I’d look at everything, write down whatever I wanted, add up the price, see that it was way too much to reasonably expect, cut it back, then present it to my mom with an anticipatory grin. As the next couple weeks would go by, I’d add items, take some away and wheel and deal, hoping the whole time that at least get 50 percent of the list would be under the tree come the morning of Dec. 25. That was all I had to worry about at Christmas when I was a kid.
My sister did the same thing, though she wasn’t as much of a “businessman” as I. Both of us had wonderful Christmases and got most of what we wanted – and all of what we needed. How can she not at least try to afford her children with the same sense of security? Does she not remember her childhood?
Having Kalista and thinking about Allyson, Logan and Rylan makes me really see what matters at Christmas – and in life – as a child. Yeah, it’s nice to get the garbage I now see as “stupid” in all those Sunday newspaper inserts/advertisements, but what’s gotta be there … what’s supposed to be there … is the love of a family. I’ve gotta say, I could give my sister’s kids every material possession hosted by all the department stores in America, see them for Jesus’ birthday and give them my love – as we all could – and it’s not going to do a damn thing in terms of their well-being, especially Allyson, who’s getting to be old enough to understand what an idiot (I know this is a simple, overused word, but try as I may, I can’t find a word for the woman that suits her better) her mother is. The sad thing is, that little girl’s going to love her regardless, believe in her nonetheless and hope for her return to normalcy to the point of tears – probably every night.
I just want you all to think about situations like this when you – like I’ve been catching myself doing lately – get caught up in the “great sales” and overall hustle and bustle of “Xmas.” Don’t concern yourself with stupid crap like “cool gifts” and LCD/HD/Plasma/Who-the-Hell-cares TVs and “Jesus is the reason for the season” vs. “Happy Holidays” and, damn it – just stupid rigmarole like that – when you’ve got people who need nothing more than your love wallowing lost and aimless all around you. Nothing, I assure you, can be more heartfelt than this gift – and it’s one you can and must keep on giving.
“I know one poor child who saved this world … and there’s 10 million more who probably could, if we all just stopped and said a prayer for them.”