Yesterday I finished my shopping for our "adoptive" family. Every year for the past 4 years, we adopt a family in our town who has fallen on hard times. They sometimes are single moms, or families out of work, etc. The program is through the town's Community Services Council. Everyone in the family gets to make a wishlist and I buy all the things on their list (and extra stuff too).
This is the shopping I enjoy the most. More than for myself! I think about what it is like for them and get them things that they need but I love to get things that are just for fun too. Every year we have received a thank you card and it brings tears to my eyes. It is all anonymous, so they send the card to the CSC who forwards it to us.
Sometimes the list they make is so modest, this year for a little boy (age 6) he asked for a winter coat, gloves, new shoes, etc. Of course I bought a bunch of toys for him as well! The mom asked for a toaster, a suit for interviews, and several other kitchen items. I got her a suit at Ann Taylor. (They give sizes on the list)But I also got her a gift card at two clothing stores here in town. I also got a gift card for a day spa, I hope she enjoys that! The father (bless his heart) put on his list "nothing for me, just for my wife and kids" That just made me sob! I had a hard time getting things for him, I have a hard enough time buying for Mr.F! I bought some clothes, gift cards to Borders, Bobs, Kmart, grocery store, and the gas station but I wanted to get something fun too. Mr.F suggested an Ipod but what if they don't have a computer? I called CSC to see if they knew anything more about him so I could get something else and they said that he likes to fish. So I treked up to the newly opened Cabela's store and asked them for a top of the line fishing pole and some accessories. I think this will really be perfect. Can you tell I get really excited about this?
I do most of the shopping but we all get together as a family to wrap everything. While we do we talk about how important it is to help out and the real spirit of the season. I think this has really made an impact on E. Last spring as I was signing her up for a camp (it is a gardening camp) at a historical house in town and it is a bit pricey but it is the best camp she has ever been too. Anyway she suggested we donate a week at the camp for someone. I called CSC and they got in touch with someone who had a little girl and she got to go to this fantastic camp! And it was all E's idea. I was really proud.
It is so amazing how life turns out sometimes. It was only 7 years ago that I was the single mom and someone did this for me. Thats one of the reasons I do this now because I can remember...here come the tears...going to pick up the items and being so blown away that someone did that for me and my daughter. And on that Christmas morning I truly, truly believed in Santa again. I felt like I was a little girl again and the spirit and magic of Christmas of that morning has stayed with me and will forever.
I think this is a gift not only to the family but for us as well, we get so much enjoyment out of doing this. I also know of some families who adopt a family instead of exchanging gifts with each other (except for the children) That way each family picks one member of the adoptive family to shop for. I recommend if anyone is in the position to do this and if you have a similar program in your town, try it out. You will certainly believe in the magic of Christmas again.