Monday, November 22, 2010

Secret Santa

Twelve years ago, at the start of December, we were poor students with a one and two year old, and a third baby on the way. It had already been a rough year, what with the loss of our stillborn son, and we were doing our best to make it through; all the while looking forward to the Christmas season and ringing in a new year with hopes of a better twelve months to come.

We went away for 4 days to attend my brother-in-law's wedding, and came back to find our back door kicked in. Our house had been ransacked and burglarized. We didn't have a lot, but they took what little we had of value. It was a sickening feeling, to have our modest home violated like that. I cried when the police told us that often it's much worse because the thieves will vandalize as well (think knives tearing apart furniture, excrement on the walls kind of thing...). They warned us to expect it to happen again in a few months (when things had been replaced through insurance).

For the longest time afterward my heart was in my throat every time we pulled up to our house after an outing. Every conversation before getting out of the car was the identical. Were those new footprints in the snow? Does the back gate look like it's been opened? Can you go first in case someone is in the house? Not a good time, let me tell you.

Our home was no longer a safe place, and to top it off, the insurance adjuster treated me like a criminal when I was trying to get them to fix our door and settle our claim. It took me losing it on the phone with him one day (and a threat to speak with his supervisor) to get him to treat me with a little compassion. I shouldn't have had to remind him that I was the victim in this whole thing, but I was extremely grateful he did a complete 180 after our little chat.

A little worse for wear, we tried our best to get ready for Christmas, but we just couldn't shake that defeated feeling. Then about a week before Christmas, we got an anonymous phone call late at night telling us to look in our mailbox. We did, and found an envelope with money in it. I don't even remember how much it was (somewhere around $100), but it was enough to make us cry and did a lot to help restore our beat-up faith in human kindness.

Money doesn't bring happiness in and of itself, but let's face it, its absence can make life extremely difficult. Knowing that somebody was thinking about us - that we were worth someone's time, energy and hard-earned money - made us more mindful of others who might be suffering. As a result, every year that we've been in a position to do so (so basically, the eight years we haven't been in school), we've tried to ease someone else's burden at Christmas time.

This year there is a family who is facing a rather hefty medical bill due to bureaucratic issues beyond their control. It's obviously far more than we can afford to take care of for them, but we are stretching ourselves a little this year to give as much as we possibly can. I'm not trying to brag or anything, but only mentioning this because I have ulterior motives. In order to do as much as I can for this family, I'm putting up a Donate button for the next couple of weeks. I know that many people play Secret Santa over the holidays, so if you feel moved to give even $5 toward this family, that would be wonderful. (A lot of you don't know me from Eve, but I'm hoping that my good karma from donating to other bloggers' causes will come around!)

I want to "make the drop" by mid-December, and will keep you posted on the status of donations. I'm aiming to raise $500 (on top of what my family is contributing), but obviously the the more I can get for them, the better off they'll be. If you feel like spreading the word, please do so!



Shannon O'Donnell said...

I think it is so important to remember those less fortunate than we are during this time of year. I'm with you 100%, Tracy. I wish I could give even more. :-)

Melanie Jacobson said...

We were burglarized once and I know the feeling you're talking about. I love hearing stories about people who step up to show a kindness like your anonymous donors did for you. I think it's great that you're doing this for someone else. Merry Christmas!

Medeia Sharif said...

I'm sorry you went through that experience with burglars in your area. And it's wonderful that a donor stepped up for you.

MommyJ said...

Tracy, this is really wonderful what you're doing. I'd like to come back and donate later in the week. And I'm still searching in my own community, within my own sphere of influence to find what it is that my family is meant to do - how we are supposed to give back this year. Thanks for the inspiration...

Lara said...

I think this is wonderful. We always try to find somebody to give to during the holidays. I appreciated how you shared your story, sometimes we don't realize just how much it really means to give until we've been in the place of the receiver.