|Tree with gifts.|
Yes, i know that tree doesn't look like much to make you say, "Awww!" but maybe it is if you know the story. This story wouldn't be complete unless i give the whole thing, too, so i hope everyone can be patient; and if it's too long for an Awww Monday, Sandee, just let me know. Besides that, you know i can't do a doggone thing without it turning into a major production.
A few weeks ago, the Angel Tree arrived at our church. Angel Tree Ministries allows men and women who are incarcerated to ask for gifts on behalf of their children. When you pick kids from the Angel Tree, you aren't giving the gift, the incarcerated parent is, through you. It's a way for the children to know their parents love them, even if they can't be there for the holidays.
As soon as i knew the names were there, i started buzzing around and irritating the lady at our church who handles them, reading and looking and picking just the right one. Or in this case, ones.
The family, according to the information i had, was 3 boys, ages 6, 3, and 1 1/2. It sounded like a group i could handle, after all, i've had boys that age. The contact information showed an address not far from our church, in what i knew to be one of the "less fortunate" areas.
Then i started trying to get in touch with the family. Every phone number on the page was wrong, and the address was misprinted, with one of the numbers not legible. Calling the Angel Tree lady at our church, she said to bring the paper back and get another family. Nothing doing, i don't give up that easy.
Next, Sweetie called the chaplain at the prison and got the whole address and different phone numbers. All of those phone numbers were wrong, too! At least i had an address to work with, i thought.
My bright idea was to try the nearest elementary school, see if the oldest child was registered. No luck, the child wasn't even in the system.
Then i went and found the house. Wrong house, the lady told me, but the name was familiar, she thought they lived next door. The people next door weren't home.
When i had pulled into the house i thought was correct, i hadn't seen the hole in the drive, and now i had a flat tire on Sweetie's car -- this was while the Jalopy was still in the shop. So i'm in what many people would think of as a dangerous neighborhood with a flat tire. What did i do? Pulled out and drove the block and a half to the main highway, and pulled into the parking lot of a closed business that at least had a visible address, so i could call for help.
That didn't work, though. Calling the number on the back of the insurance card, i pushed all the buttons and got put on hold, then a recording told me their system was down and they couldn't help me at this time! Great, i thought, and as i sat wondering what next, a car with two nice gentlemen pulled up next to me and they asked if i wanted them to change the tire!
Yes, i took them up on it. It was G-d's provision, i was sure, as one of them worked with his uncle, a mechanic, whose shop was behind his house on the very street where my Angel Tree family was supposed to live! He walked to his uncle's place and got the jack, as the dinky one that comes with the car failed, and put on the spare.
The spare was flat, so i drove to the uncle's house around the corner on a flat spare and they pulled out the air compressor and got it filled. When i offered pay, the one whose uncle lives there told me to give something to his friend who had helped, as he was out of work, and i did. Kevin and Lenny laughed at my story as i pulled in on the dinky spare and they got me a new tire and out in time to go get Sweetie from work.
My next step was to go back to that street very early in the morning, when i figured the kids wouldn't have left for school yet. Yes, they were there, next door to the nice lady i had spoken to first. No, it wasn't them, they thought it was the people across the street, who weren't home.
Foiled again, but not giving up, a few days later i got back and went to the house across the street. Nope, not her, she said, try next to me, across the street from the very first house i had tried.
Success! Finally! And instead of 3 children, i found a shabby house with 6 children and the mom/stepmom of at least a couple of them, along with the teen mother of a couple of more, and some brothers/uncles of the kids. The six children had 5 different last names, and i never got straight who went with whom, but that didn't matter. It was a house with a bunch of little kids and scrawny tree and few resources. This would take a bigger shopping trip than i had figured, but at least i had already ordered extra OneHarvest food boxes.
This past Saturday i went to MallMart at 6am and got started. Angel Tree gifts for the three boys from their father. Then gifts for all 6 kids "from Santa", including a few for all of the children to share. Some nice bath things for the moms, gift cards for the older boys/uncles/whoever they were to go to Taco Bell and get themselves a meal -- i figured boys that age always want to eat, anyway. Diapers and wipes and an extra MallMart gift card in case they needed anything else. This is what i've been saving some of that money from cleaning houses for, after all.
When Little Girl saw it all, she asked if i had bought out the store! She wrapped, and wrapped, and had a blast doing it. She loves wrapping gifts. That afternoon, i went to the OneHarvest pick up site and got the food for them and for my friend in the neighborhood who is always so hard up, and a box for our neighbor who is now out of work, and some for Bigger Girl's always on the edge college friends.
When i got back with the food, having dropped the rest of it where it belonged, Little Girl and i went to see our Angel Tree family. Food, diapers, and toys had been crammed into the Jalopy, and they put the food away, then put all the toys under the tree for Christmas.
The room only had one bulb at the other end, which is why the picture is so dark. Two or three small packages were under the tree when we got there for six kids and 4 adults, and when we left, it had boxes and bags all around it. Everyone had something, as it should be when you celebrate Christmas.
There's a book i'm reading right now called, She Did What She Could. It reminded me not to let all the things i can't do in the world stop me from doing the bit i can.
Beetle Banquet and Badger Ball -- Fairy Calendar
Chipmunks Day -- the date, in 1958, when Alvin, Simon, and Theodore hit #1 with "The Chipmunk Song"
Day Sacred to the Lares -- Ancient Roman Calendar (household gods)
Hari Ibu -- Indonesia (Mother's Day)
Icelandic Yuletide Lad of the Day, Gattapefur -- Sniffer, who uses his big nose on hlakkandi ("looking forward" day, when you begin to look forward to Christmas) to sniff out a cake or two to snatch
International Sahara Festival -- Douz, Tunisia (now a famous three-day festival, with camel racing, music and merrymaking, designed to help everyone understand the lives of traditional Bedouin tribes)
Khoiak Ceremony for Raising the Djed Pillar -- Ancient Egyptian Calendar (Osiris festival, the pillar represented his spine, and so stability and strength; date approximate)
National Date Nut Bread Day
Santa Claus Flight Clearance Day -- US FAA (they make sure he's cleared to fly, with his de-icing system, Terrain Avoidance Warning System for low-altitude flight, and special seat belt extension in good working order)
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini's Day (Mother Cabrini, the first US citizen canonized; Patron saint of emigrants, hospital administrators, immigrants, orphans; against malaria)
Unity Day -- Zimbabwe
Jordin Sparks, 1989
Ralph Fiennes, 1962
Maurice Gibb, 1949
Robin Gibb, 1949
Steve Garvey, 1948
Diane Sawyer, 1945
Steve Carlton, 1944
Hector Elizondo, 1936
Joe Pyne, 1925
Barbara Billingsley, 1922
Gene Rayburn, 1917
Claudia Taylor "Lady Bird" Johnson, 1912
Dame Edith Margaret Emily "Peggy" Ashcroft, 1907
Edwin Arlington Robinson, 1869
Giacomo Puccini, 1858
William Ellery, 1727
James Edward Oglethorpe, 1696
The Graduate(Film), 1972
Dr. Zhivago(Film), 1965
"Ding Dong School"(TV), 1952
Today in History:
A serious earthquake strikes Innsbruck, 1689
The Turkish fortress of Izmail is stormed and captured by Suvorov and his Russian armies, 1790
The first freight train is operated in Roorkee, India, 1851
Jules Janssen flies in a balloon in order to study a solar eclipse, 1870
The first string of Christmas tree lights is created by Thomas Edison, 1882
Ito Hirobumi, a samurai, becomes the first Prime Minister of Japan, 1885
French officer Alfred Dreyfus court-martialed for treason, triggers worldwide charges of anti-Semitism (Dreyfus later vindicated), 1894
Colo is born, the first gorilla to be bred in captivity, 1956
Berlin's Brandenburg Gate re-opens after nearly 30 years, effectively ending the division of East and West Germany, 1989
Richard Reid attempts to destroy a passenger airliner by igniting explosives hidden in his shoes aboard American Airlines Flight 63, 2001
An important peer-reviewed study of the spatial memory of bumblebees is published in the Biology Letters journal of the Royal Society by a class of 25 8- to 10-year-old children at Blackawton Primary School, 2010
A security news site reports that the credit and debit card account stolen from 40 million Target Corporation customers are up for sale on the black market; cards are being sold from around $20 to more than $100 each, 2013