The day before my son’s birthday I received an email from one of my friends outlining her plans to collect holiday gift donations for twenty-seven of her homeless students ranging from ages 5-12 years old. I don’t know about you but on the eve of my kids’ birthdays I am scrambling to make the next day extra special by writing a b-day greeting on their mirrors, getting gifts wrapped and ready, cards written, hanging the birthday banners etc. Because my mind and my hands were already busy, reading this email made me anxious because of course I wanted to help!
The first thing I did was scan the email in search of the “end” date to donate and I saw that my friend was offering free wine if we could help wrap all the gifts on that date. I checked my calendar. December 18, 2017. Oh. That date. I wrote her back and said the following: “What? Free wine? I’m in. Ok, it’s a little crazy of me to offer help on the 18th but you are so darn wonderful that I will do my best. I’ll be coming from out of town straight into crazy week and I write a blog on Monday nights and leave for out of town that upcoming weekend but I want to be there. If anything, count on me for gifts and money. Thanks for being someone who gets off her ass and helps 27 kids have a decent Xmas. Rock on Mama!”
Why the heck would I write that to her? Because that’s what crazy people do. We take our problems and make them other's. There's no excuse but here’s why I already knew 12/18/17 would be a crazy date:
On the 12/14/17 I would be traveling to Atlanta to go to my cousin’s wedding which meant that I needed to be packed not only for myself but for my son too.
I had to arrange for all the help I needed for my daughter who is in the Nutcracker (yes, I was missing all three of her shows to attend the wedding).
I would have Xmas gifts wrapped so that I could bring them to all the cousins who were going to the wedding.
I knew I would have to wake up at the crack of dawn on Sunday 12/17/17 (yes, I made it out before the power went off at ATL) in order to fly back to Minneapolis because I wanted to make the kick off for the Viking's home game. I couldn’t miss the game because it was the only weekend that the scouts’ families from all over the US would come into town and I really wanted to see them.
After the game, I dropped off my family only to turn around to make it back downtown in time to take pictures of my daughter in her Nutcracker costume because it would be the only opportunity to do so.
I knew when I woke up on 12/18/17 I would have to get the kids to school, pick up the dog from the kennel, play a tennis match (lost all but 2 games), laundry and get my son to hockey and on the ice by 4p.
NONE OF THE ABOVE HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH MY FRIEND WHO WAS COLLECTING GIFTS FOR TWENTY-SEVEN HOMELESS STUDENTS!!!!
Awareness is key. As I was in the carpool lane at school waiting to go to hockey, I sat quietly and still. I was thinking: How am I going to make it to this gift wrapping party? Especially since I mistakenly thought it started at 7p but it was scheduled from 5 to 7p. I hadn’t started my blog or figured out dinner. I was listing off every reason why I would be too tired, stressed or busy to help out. Besides, after the weekend bender I just had, I wasn’t even going to look at the wine. Just another excuse not to go. Well, I am so grateful that I sat long enough for the awareness to seep in. I soon realized that every single event over this five day period was not only a HUGE blessing but a privilege. All of a sudden, instead of feeling drained and obliged, I had this surge of energy and felt totally generous. These students have nothing. I ran over to Target for twenty-seven gift cards and I had a bag full of toys. When I showed up to the wrapping party I was glad to see that lots of people donated gifts and many who donated were also rolling up their sleeves to wrap them. I pushed everything else out of my mind and I concentrated on these kids. They can’t possibly know about all the irrelevant sh*t that happens as most of us prepare for the holidays.
Genevieve had bins set up to toss in the wrapped thoughtful pinches so she can deliver them to her students.
Thank you, my friend Genevieve, for having a heart of gold. Thank you for getting off your ass and helping twenty-seven kids have a decent Xmas. Thank you for caring enough to ask for help because you gave me the opportunity to feel what the Christmas spirit is all about. Thank you.