I hope everyone is enjoying the season, it's flown by for me, I've been so busy! The season is what I really want to write about. I really need to start with the fact that I've been a real bitch the past few days. I have made it my mission to organize the Christmas Charity project at my agency and it has consumed me for the past week. Doing this project every year is near and dear to my heart and I get extremely passionate about it and if you get in my way... watch out! People may try to talk to me or engage with me, but here's a tip, do not bother until I am finished, it will not be fulfilling on either side and I guarantee you that my mind is probably elsewhere. The reason I had to start with me being a bitch, is because I by no means am attempting to prove anything to anyone, I am a normal human being and can be just as awful as the next person so this is my disclaimer before I start on my rant. I get passionate about something and when it doesn't go smoothly I can tend to unleash my passionate disgruntlement on others who shalt bravely cross my path.
I did not know how much I would learn when embarking on this seemingly insurmountable task. Last year we sponsored 11 children and we pulled it off wonderfully, it was super successful! This year we had 23 children and approximately a week to pull it off. Um <insert Lealah freaking out here>. I was super stressed about making ends meet and fulfilling even some of the children's needs and requests on our list until we had a very generous donation that made it possible to give these children everything on their Christmas list and then some (the kids were very modest in their requests - ie: socks, snow gloves, and a candy cane full of kisses for one child). The letters just about broke my heart, so it meant the world to me that we would be able to do this for them. I set out early Friday morning (after a 7 miler - don't forget to get your run in!) with a pocket full of cash gathered from my coworkers and our benefactor and dove in headfirst. I managed to come across a candy store that donated 23 chocolate covered marshmallow trees without a blink, people that at least gave me a form to fill out because they would try to help us out, and then I got to the Ross in Edmond. This was one of the most eye-opening experiences I've ever had. I asked the store manager if he would like to help out our cause by giving me a discount on the clothes I was preparing to purchase for our Christmas Charity project. He proceeded to very kindly tell me that it had to go through corporate and he had no control over that as his security check guy looked on. I said thank you and continued to check out. Once at the counter, I noticed him engaged in a very apparently humorous conversation with said security check guy and overheard him crow while cackling that "Not everyone can be a hero!". The security check guy was laughing along until he noticed me watching and he quickly wiped the smile off of his face and stared at the ground. I can connect the dots. That self-serving disgusting son of a bitch. I very nearly threw down the clothes I had and walked out until I considered that I would be throwing away over an hour of work and that for the kids sake, I really did not have that time to spare, I had to shop for 18 kids before the end of the weekend and time was of essence. So I bit my tongue, burned red and saw fire until I could extract myself from the contemptuous situation. I could handle that the manager was cheap; I suspected that he lied about the corporate thing because most retail managers can give discounts and budget for such at their discretion; it was the fact that he was belittling me and what I was doing. It was the fact that he was making light the suffering of innocent children who went to school with duct taped flip flops and wanted nothing more than to have a better life or to see her daddy again, but if that wasn't possible then she would take a Jack in the Box. Really? Enough said.
I continued on and hit up Payless Shoes in Yukon. Here I was given a 30% discount with no questions asked, a little bit of salve to ease my scorched soul. Then I went to the Kohls in Yukon and received the same benefit, I started feeling good again. Saturday I did not receive any discounts, but that's okay because I succeeded in doing a LOT of bargain shopping and ended up pretty much wrapping everything up. Both nights I did not finish shopping until 9:00 pm. Saturday we drove over to our generous donors house to wrap everything at 10:00 pm (they are night owls) and wrapped everything by 4:30 Sunday morning.
What have I learned?
Despite how hard I try to make these things perfect, I am not going to fix the world on my own. Although I at no point will attempt to force or guilt people into participating, there will still be the Scrooges who will help to satisfy some social standard and will do so begrudgingly, or the ones that will look down on me because I believe I can make a difference. I knew this before, but what I learned was that I cannot change them, I cannot change their mind or make a difference in how they perceive the world. And to let them infuriate me only kills my own Christmas spirit.
I've learned that I'm blessed to know some people - a boyfriend that endures my stress mood swings, a friend that recognizes that I have my hands full and will do whatever I need her to help fulfill a cause (whilst dealing with my bitchiness), whom doesn't care about stirring the pot and will voice something that needs to be said. A man that doesn't celebrate Christmas, but whom will not blink at dropping cash on kids in need. A man that recognizes that children need coats and ensures that they get them. People that have worked hard to do well for themselves financially and will give back to society by donating to a cause. People that contribute what they can afford to. A woman who just endured a terrible tragedy, but still thinks of others and will do what she can to help. People that go above and beyond the call of duty because they care about those children, too, and will do what they can to spoil their "adopted" children. True friends whom will listen to me gripe and do what they can to make me laugh and smile when I've been disillusioned, that will put me in check when I need it, but still care about me despite my craziness. Those who dedicate time, emotional support, effort, money, love. Women who live off of low income, but still are desperate to help these little ones out in any way they can. I really had an eye-opener about Christmas spirit. I think Christmas spirit is the goodness that you carry around with you all year long, that when someone in need, friend or not, crosses your path, prompts you to come through for them - I think that is Christmas spirit. It's been harder for me this year, to get into the Christmas spirit, because while organizing our project, the thought that won't leave the back of my mind is "this won't fix their lives, this won't make their lives better". What I have to hang on to though, is that it will. For one day of one year, of 23 children's lives, that one day will be better - at least somewhat. And maybe I cannot go and rescue them all and bring them over for Christmas dinner and hot baths and warms beds, but I can give them clothes to warm themselves in, books to read, toys to play and candy to eat and that's only because a group of us got together and decided to make a difference. If every person in the world tried to give back just a tiny bit of what they've taken, whether it be money, food, time, effort or love - the world would be a better place. Perhaps to get myself into the Christmas spirit, the trick is to let go of the resentment to those that do not think like me or agree with me, and to just push forward with my own beliefs. It is not my duty to be angry and judgmental of people that do not share my values, but to exert my own beliefs and values, because honestly the only way for me personally to make a difference is to continue on my own and just hope that others come to the same realizations that I have. The real trick? To follow-through with these realizations, to keep my mind centered around positive thoughts and to not linger on negativity. It's nine days before Christmas and I think I am finally feeling it, perhaps this is an indication that 2014 will be the year that I exert my Christmas spirit! I hope you all enjoy the next couple of weeks with your loved ones, if you really want to enjoy it and feel warmed to your soul, take the time to do something nice for someone.