It was a warm Saturday morning. I loaded up our car with donations for a charity event at our local volunteer fire station. David got the girls dressed to come with us to spend the morning helping needy families receive necessities and gifts. What started out as a simple way to give back this Christmas ended up impacting our family in an unexpected way.
The weather reports had said that it was going to be a very cold morning the next day by dropping into the teens. But, you wouldn’t have had a clue based on the 72 degree reading on the thermometer. So, as we pulled into the parking lot to see the long line of people, we were so thankful they weren’t having to stand out in the cold. Yet, seeing the donations of jackets and blankets in one area of the fire station, we knew tomorrow was going to be much harder on them.
Among the jackets and blankets, there were also toys and other necessities being moved from area to area to ensure everyone in line could see them. Within that line of people, I saw a beautiful baby girl. She had to be no older than our 6 month old and was being carried by, whom I can only assume to be, her mother. As she approached, the mother reached into a box, looked over the contents and started to grab a couple of the items. I recognized immediately what she grabbed: they were wipes and diaper cream from our donations.
I felt my heart soar that this precious little girl was going to get some needed goodies. I wanted to shout out to the mother to see the other fun things she could grab. I had everything I wanted to say screaming in my head. “There are the diapers we brought, too! Please, grab some! Oh, some more toys for her age over there!” The echos in my head never left my mouth as I looked over at the line of people and saw the reality: she was only one of the many hundreds who stood in line for the very same reason. What I had felt was a large donation was only a small dent in the large needs of everyone present. There were many others still waiting in line for a chance to receive the needs and wants of their own children as well.
Later that evening, my daughters had a special visit with Santa planned among good friends. As Santa read a story to all the children, my oldest wandered off to play with toys in the other room. We were desperate for her to pay attention to the guy in the red suit sharing Christmas cheer. But, at that moment, I realized that she had been Santa for 3 whole hours earlier that morning. She watched other kids take pictures with Mr. and Mrs. Claus and receive balloon animals while never once asking to do the same. Instead, as daddy carried her in the Onya, she kept telling Daddy, “I help people!” and loved handing out toys or packing food into the bags.
We know our hearts have changed, grown and inspired by the selfless acts of the volunteers we worked with: so much so that we have decided to build the fire station a new website and make an indefinite donation of paying the yearly dues for hosting it. In addition, we plan on participating again next year and making this a new annual Christmas tradition.
Our hope for both our daughters is that they realize that Santa is a “helper” at Christmas and that giving means so much more than receiving in so many ways. By giving, we are receiving the gift of gratitude. We’ve always believed that the innocence of our children often allows them to see things more clearly and more easily than we can. The oldest may only be 2 1/2…but, she sure has taught us a thing or two.
At Christmas & always, may you find “Santa” in your own homes and hearts.
From all of us at Fluff & Familia, we’re wishing you a very safe and happy holidays.