Feliz Navidad

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.
Calvin Coolidge

I must say my religious affiliation with God, isn't standard. I believe in God and Jesus, and I agree with a majority of the Catholic church. Where I'm different is, I don't feel like going to church makes you a good person. I will admit the reason I don't is that I'm lazy. I'm working on that. So, when I feel like I need to make a connection with God, I do something extra. I contribute. I don't need to judge people and tell people I'm a good person to be a good person. This is my deed, and this was the journey.

I'm not writing this so people reading can see what I did. I'm writing this so that maybe it will inspire someone to try something new.

In August me and Justin were talking about Christmas and how we buy anything we want for ourselves when we want it. We talked about how we wanted to give presents to kids. I did some research and found a place called The Lord's Pantry. I emailed the contact person and she responded saying that she hasn't set up anything for this year yet,  but when she does she will contact me.

Well November rolls around and I kind of forgot. My parents and sister decided to adopt a family instead of giving each other presents. We thought, let's get a small family and spend $100 each. Ok, that's reasonable. So literally, I think the next day, I get an email.

"We have selected a family for you to adopt" It was the Lord's Pantry. I opened the PDF. My family was a family of 6. My first thought was, "shit."  I continued to read on and it explained that a max should be $150 a person. I then thought "HOLY SHIT".  I emailed the lady promptly to see if that max was expected. She said no and that $50 a person would satisfy.  I lastly thought, "Ok, I can do that. My family is doing it with me."

I proceeded to look at their "wish list".
Mom: Warm sheets, blankets, food processor
Dad: Winter clothes
Kid 1: White Bike, remote control car
Kid 2: The Hunger Series, guitar
Kid 3: Nitro speeder car
Kid 4:  Baby doll, walking/talking dog

I read it, and I thought: "There's no way $50 is enough"  That is what was on their wish list. No IPADs, No Nitendo DS, no Plasma TV.  They wanted books, a $20 car, and a few toys. The parents didn't say they wanted ANYTHING. They needed what was on their wish list. 

That night I remember laying awake at night and thinking. How the hell am I going to have enough money for this, even with my family's help. Then I just kept thinking, I'm so spoiled, of course I can do this. How can I NOT do this? I kept thinking, God, I promise I will do this. Whatever it takes, we will do this.

Another great benefit of this experience was that my family had to work together...LOL. On Thanksgiving my sister gilt tripped her husband to come with us midnight shopping on "Black Friday." My mom came too. We thought, hey we've never been, why not.

My genius idea was that if we went to Kohls at 12:30am that the rush would have already been through. We were just browsing....  WRONG. The lines were literally around the store, twice. So we all looked at each other and were like...fuck it.

Then we went to Meijer. It was dead... we read the sign and of course the sale was from 6-10pm then 4am-8am. So we were not in the sale time frame. We didn't care so we shopped anyways. It was fun. I got to roam around an almost empty store with my family at 1am. Random. We found awesome deals anyways. And my brother in law found a good deal on a bike. So we didn't want it to get taken, so we wheeled it around the store to notice it had a flat tire. They ended up taking it and told us they would contact us when it was finished. We got a lot of good things, but we weren't nearly finished.

We all randomly got different gifts as time went on. We had a wrapping party where we made cookies. We probably spent more time together doing this, than we would have shopping for each other. They are good memories.

Everything was bought. Way more than I thought I would ever spend on Christmas. It makes you appreciate the Christmas's you've had. Appreciate the money parents spend. 

I went to pick up the bike from Meijer. It was almost the last item.  As I was checking out, the lady at the check out was like "oooo I have a coupon for you! Santa bucks, $15 off!"  I was like "Thanks, its for a family in need so that is great."  She was so happy and went on to say shes glad there are good people left in the world. I didn't do anything for her. She helped me! She didn't even know she was helping me and she did. It was a journey that helped me see the good that Christmas brings. How some people help people because they can, not because they should.

Btw, the family we had didn't speak a lot of English, so I was worried that after the first call, that they even knew we were coming. We went to breakfast as a family before we took the gifts over. Another family bonding moment, where me and Andy talked about work and Justin ate his food and mine, my dad talked about basketball, and my mom was glad we were all together. 

We crammed together in my mom's van to tag the rest of the presents. We were heading over and I was nervous. What if we don't find the house? What if we ruin Santa for the kids? What if we have too many people and embarrass them? 

When we arrived at the house me and my mom went to knock on the door. I saw a little girl across the street watching us. "Oh God. I should have brought her gifts too." I thought.  Too late. They opened the door and I saw the smiling faces. The oldest boy shot out of the house at lightning speed jumping for joy to come help us bring gifts in. The oldest girl was calm and making fun of her siblings (in a nice way). The youngest two had smiles plastered on their faces as they helped bring in the gifts. As I took some inside, we sat them by the decorated tree. The mom and dad were so thankful, so sweet. I didn't know exactly what they were saying, but I could tell.  (I went to Honduras for a week and only picked up "How old are you" and I messed that up)

I could hear them saying "Who's that for?" "It's for me!" They were so excited. When we brought the bike up. (we didn't wrap it) I told the dad who it was for.  I heard him shout "That's MINE!" I smiled.

That was the end of the gifts.I wished we had a truck load more. We told them Merry Christmas and went to leave. The dad said a bunch of stuff I didn't understand, but I understood. 

I don't feel "sorry" for them. They are happy people. They are good people. They have a good family. They are the lucky ones. Who says they need possessions to be lucky? I could tell that they were the type of parents that would try their best and do well. We just thankfully could help them add to it. 

I learned so many things through this experience. What is important during Christmas? Family time. What do you need to be lucky? A happy family.  IPADs don't buy happiness. By all means, spend your money how you want. Just remember during this time, what it is really about. This was a great time for me. At one point I had $40 in my account. That was scary for me, but it happens to people all of the time. Guess what, I survived. I'm blessed beyond belief. My family is wonderful. I have a job. I can provide. Why not share?

Again, I couldn't have done this without my family. I wouldn't have traded this experience. Maybe if you read this, you'll want to do something like this too. I promise you, it will be only a positive experience. We've had a good Christmas every year, give someone else one for a change.

If you have kids, do this for them as well. Show them at a early age, the rewards of giving. My mom did. That's why I'm doing this now.

If you want to know more look into: The Lord's Pantry

or  Life Stream Services for a visit and adopting with an elderly person

 Have a Merry Christmas and enjoy the time with your family.


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