Have I mentioned we're poor? American poor that is. No starvation going on here, but in general when the kids take their cans of soup to the food drives or make cards for the needy, those items tend to come back to us.
This year so many people are having financial difficulties that I was certain there would be very few gifts for the children other than what I could procure. The day after Thanksgiving, I did some pretty impressive Goodwill half-price sale shopping and was calling it good.
Then our Relief Society President asked if they could give the children each a present, something they needed.
"Thank you. That would be nice."
A week later, the Bishop told us that he'd recommended us to a company that chooses a family each year to adopt. Clothes, mostly.
"Oh, that would be nice, very nice!"
Shortly thereafter, a sweet lady called and told me that the weirdest thing had happened. She'd been buying a tree and a guy came up to her and asked her if she wanted an extra tree because he'd gotten an extra for free. So...did we have a tree yet? Could we take this one off her hands?
"Um...OK...I love real trees. Thanks!"
As my lovely RS President handed me three big black garbage bags of gifts for my lovely children the week before Christmas, she explained that we had asked for so little she added a "few things" to our requests.
"Wow! Thanks! The kids will be thrilled!"
Monday, the 22nd a man showed up to my door when I was expecting a friendly acquaintance from church.
"Hi! Jami? I'm Bob [all names have been changed, except mine]. This is Sandra, Robin, and Jason. Where would you like these?" says he pointing to a few charmingly wrapped gifts.
"Uh, on the couch I guess. Thanks."
"Oh we'll need more room than that. Ho, ho, ho!" And they proceeded to bring more and more and more gifts in.
I suspected they were the company to whom the Bishop had given our information, but they had probably ten gifts per child, much more than I was expecting.
"Um, thanks so much. Um...who are you?"
"Oh, replied Bob. "I already told you: I'm Bob. There's Sandra and Robin. And he's Jason."
Cute, thought I, but who ARE you? "I mean who are you associated with? Are you related to Dave who was coming over at 10?"
"Dave? We're no relation to him . . . but we know him."
OK, Misters and Misses Anony-mice. I get it. No clues. "You really know how to raise my kids' heart rates," I joked. "That's a lot of presents. Thank you!"
The kids added their heartfelt thanks ["Thank you!"(N) "Thank you." (V) "Thanks." (E) "Niiiice!" (J) "Tanksyerwelcome!" (C)] and our benefactors went their merry philanthropic way.
Ten minutes later, two teachers from the school dropped off a turkey, a huge bag of oranges, a half dozen cupcakes and a big box of food.
An hour after that, Sister Sweet delivered a lovely ham and a huge box of yummies.
The receiving cooled off for a day. Then came Christmas Eve at my mom's, relaxed and wonderful. The angel-monkeys sang for Grandma, and two of them played their trumpets. After that came the gifts. Concerned that the kids were not getting many presents this year, mom and the Yvil-auntie got them nearly everything on their lists.
Let me tell you...there was much rejoicing Christmas morning. N in particular just kept opening each of her gifts, hugging them, exclaiming, "I'm just so happy!" Even I teared up a few times.
I am filled with gratitude towards the founders of our feast. However, I do feel a bit guilty: all of that just for us when so many are needy this year. Also I think I may need to buy some carbon offsets for the wrapping paper/cardboard/shrink wrap abomination that constitutes our garbage this week. And perhaps, just perhaps, we concentrated a bit too much on gifts, and not quite enough on Christ this Christmas.