Like I said the other day, and like I know we’re all feeling, the true meaning of the Holiday season (and for us, Christmas all around), was abruptly brought back into focus last Friday…peace, love, children. Around here, we’re still feeling all the feelings…sadness, anger, fear…and all in all, it makes for a very sober season, a very bleak midwinter. And even as holly jolly as I typically am, I’m all about the somber sober mindfulness right now. It is appropriate. It is needed. It is sacred.
I’m looking for a silver lining anywhere I can get it.
And we’re also looking for things to do.
Luckily, we had planned weeks ago to do something good this week. We were going to drop off some much needed, wanted, and hoped for items to the Austin Children’s Shelter because AT&T gave $35,000(!!!) at Camp Mighty to purchase gifts for charities. An incredible gift. And incredible timing.
So Saturday, Harry and I loaded up and headed to an Austin AT&T store. We had 1/10th of that $35K to spend at one stop (35 $100 gift cards that had been making me nervous since I got them in Palm Springs)…. which is probably at least 10 times more than we usually spend on anything ever. Harry was confused.
His response: “So we are spending $3,500 on kids we don’t know?”
I explained to him what was happening, what we were going to do. That it would kind of be like how we drop things off at the community library thrift store, only we were picking up brand new things from a store and taking them to children who need them. He is seven. So he was skeptical about why other kids were getting new electronics and wanted to know more about these kids. I tried to explain as delicately as I could that these were kids who had experienced significant loss, trauma, abuse or neglect in their lives. And we wanted to give them something they really wanted so that they knew people out there cared about them.
His response: “Why would anyone hurt kids?”
I hadn’t told Harry what had happened in Connecticut the day before. I wasn’t planning on telling him. Not yet. Like I said, he’s seven. However, we usually do talk about almost everything, so it felt weird not telling him. On the other hand, I knew a lot of his friends and schoolmates weren’t being told, and I didn’t want him to be the one to tell them. And then also I didn’t want to set up a situation where I told him about it but then said he shouldn’t talk about it or tell his friends … because that just creates weirdness on about four levels. Complicated. So I just didn’t say anything.
But I was thinking about it. I was thinking about it as we walked next door to a giant coffeeshop to get some treats while they packed up all of the goods. And I was really conflicted about not talking about it.
The New York Times was talking about it though…with large photos on its cover. And there’s a New York Times stand in the coffee line. The child lives in this world and he can read. So we unexpectedly had a conversation about what happened the day before in Newtown, Connecticut. Right there in the coffeeshop.
His response, “I want to help.”
We couldn’t help the kids we were thinking about that day, but we were going to help some others we’d never met.
They’re just electronics, but if it takes electronics to help these kids know someone out there cares about them…that someone is thinking of them and wants to give them something to help in some small way, then so be it.
The whole day was a turning point for us. I know we’re all looking for things to do, and they really are all around. I want to make sure I don’t forget to look for them. I know a lot of people are posting about Mr. Rogers quote on “Look for the Helpers.” Well, whenever possible, I want to be one of those helpers. It’s all I can think to do.
Of course there are a million ways to help. Here’s one. AT&T, is partnering with the Make a Wish Foundation to grant a wish every day for 28 days through their Wish-A-Day Sweepstakes. Wishes with the most votes win, so if you have a worthy wish (or know of someone who does) and a Twitter account, go do that. Go make that happen.