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another hey_jupiter post [Nov. 30th, 2007|10:35 am]
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[whoopseedaisy]
The lovely hey_jupiter posted this today and I just had to share it. Enjoy!



My brother, my sister, and I were spoiled kids. Don't get me wrong, we weren't rich. We didn't have mountains of expensive toys, but we pretty much got what we wanted. Did I mention that both sides of my family are Catholic? You know what that means! Lots of people, because back in the day Catholic = no birth control. That meant that we cleaned up because we had lots of family members, and at the time we were the only children in the family. I've always been dumb when it comes to family tree things. You know, this cousin twice removed and blah blah blah. So I have siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles and a metric shit-ton of people I just call "cousins."

I tell you all of that to tell you about the year Adopt-a-family was born in our household. It was a couple of days after Christmas when my brother and I declared "We're bored!" As my Dad looked at us both siting in the middle of piles of brand new toys, something in his mind SNAPPED. I'm sure if I was hypnotized by a professional, I could go back and actually *hear* the snap. I remember being really nervous because he was so calm. "Oh Linda" he called to my mother. "Would you come here and bring some boxes?" Every toy we'd gotten was put into boxes. We hadn't even played with 90% of them! Oh I know it sounds like a made up tale meant to teach greedy little brats a lesson, but I assure you that this is true. We got in the car & took all of our toys to Children's Hospital. My father took us room after room and made us hand our toys over to these kids and smile. AND SMILE! This was back before the days of HIPAA and privacy.. we were able to just walk around like Santa Effing Claus and give away our loot. A week later my father told us that he'd decided that from now on my parents were going to spend HALF as much money on us each year for Christmas, and the other half would go to helping out a needy family. He also foosnickered BOTH sets of my grandparents to do the same and give HIM the money. Half the money from three big Christmas spenders for 3 kids and you've got a healthy chunk of change for that time.

We thought he'd forget about it when Christmas rolled around. Ohhh no. He remembered. He contacted a Catholic church & got info about a family who needed help. The parents put together a wishlist for the kids & gave it to the church, who gave it to my father. We were all part of it. We'd go shopping to pick out things for the kids and a little something for the parents. It was FANTASTIC. Back then, they'd give you the address to take it to the family yourself. We'd take the stuff to the parents (usually no kids around so it could be from Santa) and they'd be so happy. My mother would always cry because she was so poor when she was a kid & knew what it was like to have strangers come to give you things.

The year that really, really convinced me to do it myself as an adult was when I was 15. We were taking presents over about a week before Christmas. The kids were not there except for their baby. We were carrying stuff in and my father was taking a sack from the grocery store into the kitchen. The wife told my dad how much she appreciated it, but she couldn't cook a turkey because she didn't have a stove. OMG, it's making me all teary to think about it even now. All they had was a hotplate. They couldn't bake anything at all. All they ate had to be able to be fixed that way. My Dad took us kids home and he & my mom left again. Later Mom told us they got a new stove for the family. They'd talked about it & decided not to give each other any presents that year and buy the stove instead. Mom said she'll never, ever forget the look the Mom's face when she realized she wasn't going to have to cook anymore on that damned hotplate.

Now you give your presents directly to the church or charity you go through to get your family. That's for the best, I think. That way the family doesn't have to feel like strangers are invading their homes. I always try to picture the scene on Christmas day when they open the presents I bought for them. That makes happier than any present I've gotten since I started doing it. I can't tell you how grateful I am to be able to be blessed enough to be able to do it. I know I'm very, very lucky and I feel a NEED to try to repay that luck. I'm sure if I had kids of my own, it would be really hard to keep the tradition going. This year I have a single dad and three little girls. I'm going to have SO much fun shopping for those girls. It's going to be insanely fun. I only wish they could go with me.

I jokingly asked my Dad a few years ago if my brother and I being ungrateful was a good thing after all. He said that we were unbelievable, ungrateful brats and he wished there were still gypsies that would take kids. Then he said that it wasn't *us* that made him make up his mind for the next year. It was my Mom. That night after visiting the hospital she had cried and told my Dad all about how when she was a little girl they would have to stand in their living room and take charity from people in their church. Food, clothes, and a few toys. She said that although it was somewhat humiliating, it was such a relief to know they wouldn't be without a Christmas dinner and warmer clothes. He said that for days he kept visualizing the little girl version of my mother doing without while he was unwrapping present after present. He said it made him think of the first Christmas after they'd met when she watched him unwrap presents and said "Are all of those for you!?" with wonder in her eyes. He said the thought of her as a girl going without KILLED him, and that's why we started adopting families. That kills me.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: sillyboho
2007-11-30 06:56 pm (UTC)
this is beautiful.
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[User Picture]From: mengus
2007-11-30 07:30 pm (UTC)
It really is.
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[User Picture]From: hungryandhollow
2007-11-30 07:01 pm (UTC)
wow. This made me really sad, but in a good way.
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[User Picture]From: sillyboho
2007-11-30 07:17 pm (UTC)
it brought back memories of hash and powdered milk.

YECH
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[User Picture]From: lickintoadz
2007-11-30 07:02 pm (UTC)
I love this post. When I was a kid, my mom was REALLY poor. (She wouldn't take the child support.) So the church guy would come around on Xmas and bring the box with the ham and canned food and stuff in it. Later on she got a better job and we'd go to the church to help box up the things for other people. Only time we ever went to church.

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[User Picture]From: whoopseedaisy
2007-11-30 07:31 pm (UTC)
You just like it because of my awesome icon. Admit it!
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[User Picture]From: mengus
2007-11-30 07:11 pm (UTC)
I think this entry embodies what I like about internet journaling, that is I find anecdotal storytelling to be infinitely fascinating, especially when relayed in simple, direct language. It hardly feels like reading at all, yet has palpable impact. She did a nice job of translating from experience to words.

I liked this a lot.
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[User Picture]From: whoopseedaisy
2007-11-30 07:33 pm (UTC)
She is inside-out beautiful, which is the best kind. Her stories are effortless because it is just who she is. I adore her and her LJ is definitely one of my all-time favorites because of this and for the reasons you noted as well.
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[User Picture]From: mengus
2007-11-30 07:36 pm (UTC)
I think I am going to add on your recommendation.
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[User Picture]From: whoopseedaisy
2007-11-30 07:53 pm (UTC)
Good idea.
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[User Picture]From: electriclime
2007-11-30 07:14 pm (UTC)
This is fantastic. I need to remember these kinds of things more often.
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[User Picture]From: redxmagnum
2007-11-30 07:21 pm (UTC)
I was in one of those adopted families.

I thank you. This post just about made my day.
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[User Picture]From: smokkee911
2007-11-30 08:41 pm (UTC)
Awwwwwwwwwwwwww!! My family used to do the Adopt-A-Family thing too. Nice to know people doing this kind of thing really make a difference.

:-)
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From: donttouchmyhat
2007-11-30 07:58 pm (UTC)
Tremendous.

Jeez though, it surprised me that they used to send the donors to the donees directly; what an intensely uncomfortable moment, I'd think.
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[User Picture]From: lady_alyria
2007-11-30 08:35 pm (UTC)
I don't think so. I grew up poor and I was never ashamed of it. I guess its because we weren't taught to think we had somehow failed because we didn't have money. We just thought, some people have money and some don't. We don't.
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From: donttouchmyhat
2007-12-01 07:01 am (UTC)
That's good to hear. I still have trouble imagining that that's universal, but then neither is my impression.
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[User Picture]From: lady_alyria
2007-12-01 07:35 am (UTC)
Oh, I know it's not universal. Some people are raised to think it's a matter of pride.
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[User Picture]From: biscuiteater
2007-12-07 11:35 pm (UTC)
You spelled Illyria wrong.
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[User Picture]From: lady_alyria
2007-12-08 03:43 pm (UTC)
Some people never change.
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[User Picture]From: mengus
2007-11-30 09:22 pm (UTC)
I was thinking about that too. I wondered if the one-family-to-another aspect would be better, since that would help foster a sense of community over an institution. I don't have the answer, I was just thinking.
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From: donttouchmyhat
2007-12-01 07:04 am (UTC)
It made me think of life on the reservation. On Halloween, there'd be whole families that came to the door, or old kids forced by their parents to trick-or-treat, because they needed as much as they could get. It might be just my impression, but they looked pretty ashamed to be there.
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From: maniacalsecret
2007-11-30 08:46 pm (UTC)
This really warmed my heart and restored my faith in humanity somewhat.
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[User Picture]From: _glamazon
2007-11-30 09:15 pm (UTC)
I was so thinking of posting this here when I read it this morning, you beat me to it! Although, at least it made me realize what I want to do this Christmas - volunteer.

<3
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[User Picture]From: not_only_no
2007-11-30 09:23 pm (UTC)
Stunning.
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[User Picture]From: deathjoy
2007-11-30 10:24 pm (UTC)
This is really refreshing amidst all the christmas Buy me Buy me hysteria.
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[User Picture]From: harleygirlsd
2007-12-01 12:48 am (UTC)

thank you.

When I was a kid, we went from being those "spoiled brats" to being the RECIPIENTS of the Christmas charity boxes (after my dad died)... so from BOTH ends of the spectrum, AMEN and THANK YOU for sharing.
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[User Picture]From: joybeans
2007-12-01 01:26 am (UTC)
oh man, I'm crying. Beautiful.
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[User Picture]From: journeyto
2007-12-01 02:42 am (UTC)
This story has so many different kinds of love stories within it.

Good writers impress me, but good writers who write about people who love each other well move me. Thank you, thank you for posting this.
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From: poison_mekare
2007-12-01 06:31 am (UTC)
Wow... That made me tear up! Very inspiring and a good reminder to give back to the community!
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[User Picture]From: morningxafter
2007-12-01 07:39 am (UTC)
i followed a random link here from a friend, and i must say, that's an AMAZING story. the world needs more people like you, hell i need to try and be more like you. i thought i was doing good just dumping my pocket change in the buckets every time i left the mall! man, that is just plain awesome!
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[User Picture]From: girlvinyl
2007-12-01 08:45 am (UTC)
Omg teary. I just got a pretty sizable bonus from work [not holiday, it is performance-based from previous quarter business] I will find something nice like this to do with it.

I am not super wealthy, but I grew up having whatever I wanted and now that I make enough money to be comfortable it is so great to be in a position to give it to causes that are important to me. I am also now excited about the prospect of going shopping for someone else. HOW FUN!


Edited at 2007-12-01 08:47 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: whirring_mind
2007-12-01 11:41 pm (UTC)
This is gorgeous. Thank you for posting it.
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