Christmas comes 3 days late
Yesterday, I made a post about a single mother of two whose house was broken into, and whose TV, microwave and children's Christmas gifts were all stolen. On Christmas morning, there were no toys for those kids. When I heard the story, I'd never met the mother, or the kids, but I couldn't possibly imagine what a horrible Christmas it must have been for 2 kids, and how terrible it must have been for their mother to see them go without.
I didn't have it in me to let it go. I also didn't have it in my bank account to fund Christmas for another family just three days after our Christmas. So I sent Ma out to find out how many kids and what their ages were, I posted here inviting my readers to donate to the cause, and I posted on unioncountymommies.com about it as well. The blog world moves slowly, it's perfect for things like The Heart Walk, but when working with an 8 hour time limit? Well, I think I had 5 readers while that post was up, but in a web forum setting, it went like wildfire. By the time I went to bed last night, I had a nearly $200 with which to play Santa.
Today was a lot of hustle, trying to set up a way to surprise her with the Christmas booty: trying to figure out a way to get to her place while she was out, trying to even find out where she lived. Unfortunately, we only knew her story through her workplace and co-workers who aren't allowed to give out personal info. Details were proving to be difficult to come by. So we made them promise to call us when she came in for her check and ran off to do the shopping.
Let me tell you, THAT was the kind of Christmas shopping a girl can enjoy. Next year, when I shop for the kids, I'm going to save up a designated dollar amount and go to one store, one time, and do it all at once. Man, stress free, no worries, no unexpected surprises, nada. Just lots of fun shopping and knowing that I had X amount of dollars to make 2 little kids and one stressed out mom very happy. Yup, that's my personal plan for Christmas 2007 para la casa del Erin.
Anyway we spent nearly $300 on a car load of toys an stuff. I had an extra microwave (damn near brand new) that I've been trying to sell for months, but no one would buy it. Apparently, it knew it belonged to this family and was just hanging around waiting for me to realize it. (What does it say about me that I just said that a microwave was smarter than I am?)
OK, so I spent a little more than I had, but after seeing her reaction when we delivered the stuff, I have no regrets at all. So I'll have to figure out how to make up that $50 I went over... I'll do it. Oh well. But you know, I'd do it again, with twice the overage... it was so worth it.
See, she's a single mom of 2 who lives 45 minutes drive from her crappy 2nd shift job at Waffle House - and doesn't own a car. She spent her rent on Christmas, and had it stolen. You could see it in her eyes how tired she was. You could see how emotionally beaten she was. She's doing her best and getting kicked in the teeth for it.
So anyway, Ma calls her over and tells her Santa stopped at our house for her kids, and she was like, "...huh?" Cuz she'd never met me, and only knew Mom from waiting on her the other day. So two weirdo ladies walk in talking about Santa when all she wants is to pick up her check, well... she was a mite surprised and confused until Ma pointed out the bicycles hanging out of her trunk - at which point, the relief and gratitude washed over her face, and I swear to god, you could physically watch the change in her stance and demeanor. You hear people say "it was like a weight just came off my shoulders..." She looked like she lost a 100 pounds in 2 seconds, right before she dissolved into tears and threw herself onto Ma.
It was a beautiful moment. Seriously. I don't cry in public, and I'm pretty sure Ma doesn't cry at all, but we both did today, right there in Waffle House.
She had borrowed a friend's car to come up from SC to pick up her check. She left with a check and one very full borrowed station wagon... A microwave, a new 20" TV/DVD combo, 2 bicycles, and a carload of toys, and a fat ass smile. The smile was the best part.
I wish I'd have been able to see the kids' faces as they got the presents. Sure, that's why we did it, for the kids. But the mom's reaction was plenty enough for me! I think we offered her a little hope, some reason to believe that the world isn't always all about busting ass and getting kicked in the teeth for it.
So, that's my day. Thank you to my UCM supporters who made it possible! I wish I'd had a video camera so you could all see her face!