Black Friday doesn’t mark the start of the holiday season around here, no, it is when we get assigned our sponsor-a-child child that Christmastime officially begins.
Every bit as much as overeating cookies, blowing our gift budget, and my personal obsession to find the very most perfectest wrapping paper ever, sponsoring a child through Delaware Valley Children Charities (as organized by the Mrs. workplace) is a beloved annual family Christmas tradition.
We’ve sponsored one or two children every year for the last decade, even before we had offspring of our own, helping to give those little kids a Christmas worth remembering, with beautifully wrapped new toys, clothes, books, and games under their tree. The mere idea of all that fills me with joy in a way that nearly nothing else can.
Each November, the Mrs. tries to sell me on the need to sponsor older kids, that they, like elder cats at the shelter, ain’t the *glamorous* ones getting picked. In fact, some of them don’t get selected and may end up with nothing for themselves come Dec 25th. Most people, and me too before this year, want the 3, 4, and 5 year old kiddos. It makes sense, ’cause those are the kids you think of when you think about Christmas — shouts of glee, tearing off paper, hugging tightly the toy that was #1 on their wishlist. But now I (finally) get the opposing view: the stone cold fact that too often the less-fortunate 14, 15 and 16 year-old children get squat under the tree and that they DO work (that was always my snide retort — “get a job, I worked from age 13 and didn’t even have to”) and that it’s more than possible all their earnings go back to the family to help buy food and clothes and medicine for their parents and their younger siblings. That is a childhood I can’t fathom, and one that I am now empathetic towards.
As such, we happily checked the “older” children box on the form and got assigned a 14-year-old girl who is into writing and drawing, and arts and crafts. She is also asking for an MP3 player, make-up and nail polish (my specialty), and likes the Biebs. NOW would be a good time to have a connection to the mega pop star, but alas, OWTK does tread in those waters. I wish though, for just this once, because if I did have a vague relationship with Justin Bieber or his people, I could probably make this girl’s year, and give her a Christmas she’d never ever forget.
Knowing that the Bieber thing isn’t going to happen, I went shopping for our girl yesterday, picking up an amazing 3-in-1 winter jacket for $50 at TJ Maxx, along with a comfy sweatpants/sweatshirt duo, sweet fleece ‘tech’ gloves, an MP3 player (as good as I could find based on user reviews, and for not that much $), a snazzy nail polish cube (with 15 different dark and moody colors — her stated fave shade is black, so…), and some ancillary make-up gift sets from target.
The spending target for an older kiddo is $150 and right now, we sit comfortably at $110. Michael’s is having a huge 20% off the entire store (including sale items) deal this Sunday afternoon, so the Mrs. and the kids will go and buy our sponsor-a-child child some primo arts & crafts and writing supplies, thus completing our shopping in the nick of time (everything is due, wrapped & tagged, by Monday.)
While I was dizzy strolling up and down make-up aisles past the lipstick and eyeliner, and puzzled over the complexity of women’s clothing size charts (and in turn, not doing my part to eliminate the dufus dude stereotype), I had an absolute blast trying to focus in on an age range way outside my fatherly comfort zone, because I know it matters a lot to one young lady who I’ll never see or meet or know the true impact of these gifts picked with care, if not also a dose of confusion.
‘Tis the season of hope and of giving! Christmastime is here!