Thursday, December 18, 2008

Keys to Christmas

My family was given a great gift today and as I rode with Jennifer to acquire it, I commented that I felt as if I'd been given keys to the city. Today I recieved my own Christmas miracle.

Part of my not being around lately was a deep sadness that I didn't want to talk about. I was afraid that if I sat down and thought about truly blogging my life I would only end up with a 'poor me' post and, frankly, there have been enopugh of those. BUT, since the circimstances have changed I'd like to tell you all about it.
I will not deny that times are hard for most of America (and other parts of the world, I know)...but when its something you are personally dealing with it can seem that you are alone in you pain.

For two months I've hoped that Christmas wouldn't be as depressing as it looked. Bills were barely being paid, food barely kept in the cabinets. The kids desperately needed warm coats.
I looked at December's money/bill ratio and I plummeted with the fact that we would not have money to buy any presents at all for Christmas. Now, I know that Christmas is not all about presents. I've tried to relay that to my kids - despite what all of the shows on tv this time of year are telling them.
I asked Isaac - "If you only got one thing for Christmas...what would you want?" He said, "I'd really like that ATV game for playstation...but if you didn't have enough money for that I'd take a bike." That moment broke my heart a little. I should never have to hear my child think that way.
I've fought with myself over telling Isaac the truth about Santa. I just don't want him waking up on Christmas morning thinking that he'd been bad or that Santa didn't care about him - under those circumstances I'd rather him be mad at me.
This is the first year for Lylli to truly be excited about the holiday. She understands Santa - thanks to Disney channel and their never ending supply of Christmas themed episodes.

When I knew that there was no way to give them something on Christmas morning I contacted Toys for Tots. I had remembered one year, when I was about 12, that I went with my father to a party where I was given a cute purse and a few other things. We'd had a rough year and my father did what he could to provide a good christmas - now I understand.
So, 2 weeks ago I realized that its ok to ask for help. I knew that there were kids out there in far worse circumstances who deserved it - but I also know my circumstances and my children and that they deserve to be able to go to school when it resumes and join in the conversation when other kids are talking about what they got for Christmas.
Finally, yesterday a Sgt e-mailed me back and then called us. He asked no questions - just gave me the directions to the warehouse and said to come as quickly as I could.
I expected a present each - just one thing for them to open. I nearly cried when the cute guy in uniform told me I could pick out 3 presents each. He asked no question other than how old the kids were and pointed me to the right piles with a smile on his face.

Its funny - I felt greedy looking at those gifts. I kept looking at the smallest things I could find - had it not been for Jenn being with me I probably would have left with a few cars and a few ponies, lol.
We are so blessed.

I don't know whether the men watching over the toys fully understand what they are doing - what they are offering to these families. I pray they do.
I pray that every family that donated this year fully understands. Yes, they are giving kids presents on Christmas...but they are giving parents hope. I'm excited to put the tree up now - to decorate the house.
I get to feel like I provided something to my kids - and that is a big deal. But I know that I have not done this on my own. Thank you to the family(s) in or around Springfield, MO who bought the puppy with the cute pink carrier, the Crayola light-up color pad, the dinosaur moon sand, the helicopter, the fuzzy pink and plastic phone and the Barbie tea set.

This year, I KNOW there is a Santa. He isn't the Santa that I grew up with - no, he's Virginia's Santa. He exists in the people who have and choose to give. Thank you.

And thank you to the Marines for giving those people a chance to help.


Bri said...

Girl, you totally made me cry! Good for you for not letting your pride get in the way of making Christmas happy for your kids!

Darcie said...

Kendra -
What a beautiful post!! I am so glad your hope has been returned - it is so much more valuable than the toys you are able to get. I have given to Toys-for-tots many times -it is so awesome to hear your personal story!! :) thanks for sharing!! It makes me realize how special it is and gets me out of being cynical!! So you gave me a gift this holiday too!! :)

Jenny, the Bloggess said...

You made me cry. Beautiful and poignant and perfect. And honestly? This post was an amazing gift to me. It brough me a bit of "Christmas magic" for the first time this year.

Thank you.

Wendy at Babies Gotta Have It said...

More tears here. All the best to you this Christmas!

Overflowing Brain said...

I echo all the other commenters in saying that that was beautiful. It is a very light Christmas for us too. But my present from my mom is being able to come home for the holidays and it is the greatest present I could get. Just spending the time with my family is greater than anything anyone could wrap.

Toys for Tots is an amazing organization and I'm so very glad they were able to help you and your children this year.

Merry Christmas

funkimunkii said...

crying now. thanks. a truly beautiful post.

motherbumper said...

What a beautiful post and thank you for sharing. And I agree, reading this post is a gift. Merry Christmas.

Maura said...

That was beautiful. I can hardly see well enough to type because I'm so in awe of you.

I know you and your family will have an awesome Christmas.

just beth said...

When my eldest was born, we stayed at a Ronald McDonald house because he was in the NICU at a hospital far from home. Of course, everything I thought about was getting my baby well, so on Christmas morning, to wake up to probably twenty presents was just... well, just like you put it. There IS a Santa. It's good for us to remember that, and thank them and BE them when we can.



~ T ~ said...

What a wonderful story! I am so happy that you get to keep the magic alive for your children.

Shannon Wilkinson said...

That had to be a hard story to share. But thank you for doing it. Brought tears to my eyes, and reminding me how things get all twisted up and overwhelming.

Keep finding the hope! Merry Christmas.

Teresa said...

I so appreciate you taking the time to share this post. Please know that Toys for Tots and all those other wonderful organizations revive the hope of Christmas for so many of us- here too, on more than one Christmas over the years.

Your kids will be thrilled and the grownups will know the true meaning of Christmas. What could be better than that?

Here's to 2009 being a better year financially for all of us.

Merry Christmas!

Lynn Crymble said...

Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this very personal story.
I've always hoped Santa still existed and you've confirmed it!

Sammanthia said...

Toys For Tots is awesome and I'm so glad your kids will have presents under the tree this year. There's nothing wrong with asking for help and I'm glad you did.
God bless you and your family... Merry Christmas.

pam said...

Merry Christmas to you and your family. And thank you so much for sharing your story!

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

I read casually today at work about an extra (extra - we've done this once this month already) 130 toys that were delivered today, donated by our employees, for this purpose.

Thank you for giving me the gift of connecting this to a real mom, real deserving little children. Like the other commenters, I cried too!

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!!!

Tess said...

I always see the Toys for Tots collection bins and on occasion will purchase something just for that. It always seemed so distant though, like you hope you're really doing something but just don't feel it. What you did was make me feel it and for that I thank you.

For years we go to a friend's house on Christmas Day and she always insists that we buy a small thing for everyone present, about 20 people, to be able to open. I have grown more and more tired of shopping for inexpensive crap just so everyone can unwrap a gift. I think what I am going to do is buy a bunch of toys, take a photos and then donate them all. Everyone present can know that they contributed to making some family, with less than we are all blessed with, feel happy and loved rather than just another knick knack, bar of fancy soap or ornament to contend with.

Thank you so much for this post.

Elaine A. said...

I am sure you were humbled to write this and I am SO glad you did. It's a beautiful post and really does prove the spirit of the season is still alive today. I hope you all have a VERY MERRY Christmas!

Jane @ What About Mom? said...

This is sweet, but I'm hoping that cable (all those "Disney Christmas-themed shows") and playstation are necessities for some reason that I'm just not guessing . . . (or maybe your kids only watch/play at daycare while you work or something).

Or maybe you can't cancel the cable because you have a two-year commitment. Or maybe your kid honestly thinks a bike would be a "small" Christmas.

I feel like such a cranky Scrooge, but I wonder what we have become that the "bills" include video game players and cable when things are "tight."

I do hope your kids have a wonderful Christmas.

Loralee Choate said...

I think this is the most...amazing post I have read in a really long time. My eyes are watering and my heart is full.

Thank you so much for sharing.

P.S. HUGE fan of our troops. This just adds to it.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story. And inspiring to those of us who have enough (for now) and can help others a bit.

Sparkliesunshine said...

This was such a beautiful post. I am very much tearing up. I always like to donate, but I have to say thanks to this post I will NEVER miss a Christmas where I don't donate to Toys for Tots. I will also be sure accept their donations if/when I need it.

Merry Christmas to you and your family. I know you're going to have a great one.

Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] said...

I'm not sure if the word 'brave' is apropos to use here, but it fits your spirit.

Thanks for putting a human (voice) face on what our donations can do for others.

Vanessa said...

It was hard not to tear up as I read this post. It was equally hard not to once again acknowledge how very lucky I am right now. I wish you and your family the best Christmas ever. HUGS

Amy@Bitchin'WivesClub said...

Merry Christmas!

KeyPracticesforMarketingSuccess said...

Thank you for sharing this story with us. It shows your wonderful spirit and inner strength and it made me want to hug you!!

Take care and may you always remember there are those who care and want to help - and it is okay to ask.

Our best blessings are wished for you and yours.


Lisa Survillas said...

Your story and the hope you found at Christmas brought tears to my eyes. I am happy that you will get to give your kids a few things and that they will not be embarrassed when they return to school. I have donated to Toys 4 Tots before, but never realized just how much it helped. God Bless you and your family. I pray your situation improves each day. We are all struggling and it is heart warming to read a story like this!!

Sonya said...

This is my Christmas this year too.

The thoughts of my 7 year old losing her faith in Santa are crushing. Asking for help is so humbling. Not knowing if we can get a tree is depressing. I've been hiding for a few weeks now.

Circumstances can change so quickly. While my daughter won't be getting the American Girl and accessories that she's wishing for, and that would have been a possibility a mere year ago, thanks to the grace of family and friends, she will get something for Christmas.

May you have a wonderful beautiful Christmas full of the things that truly matter Kendra.

For Jane: your comment saddens me, not for Kendra and her children (who don't deserve to have their innocent Christmas wishes criticized), but for you. My wish for you, to find the universal love for others that seems lacking in your harsh judgments.

Noelle said...

You deserve a beautiful, memorable Christmas, and a heart full of love and happiness. Thanks for a really great story and post.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

Aw, this makes me tear up. I hope your kids have a great Christmas. Blessings to you and your family....

FrogQueen said...

Thank you sooooo much for confirming the Christmas spirit and that indeed there is MANY Santa Clauses!!!

Kendra said...

I am in absolute awe over everyone who has left a kind comment - at times the world can feel so small but today it has opened up wider than I've ever seen. Thank you all so much and my family wishes you a Very, Very Merry Christmas as well.

I'm not sure that any of you will come back here...and I don't feel that its a necessity to defend myself or my children (if the Marines didn't ask it of me...then why should anyone?).

Like Santa, I know that Scrooge is alive and well also. I wish him/her the best.
There are places other than my own home where my children are able to watch tv - their grandmother's, their aunt and uncles.
The playstation we have is quite old - and was actually recieved from a friend of my husband's. The only games we have for it were also recieved at that time.
Though money is tight I will not defend the moments in the past few years where I have purchased things that were not a 'must have'. I'm sure anyone would do the same when they could.
I'm sure that you would all also understand (like the lovely Sonya) that what may seem beautiful and perfect one day can disappear and be so uncertain the next.

As for the bike - he has no concept of what is cheaper...he was only wishing to save me as much money as possible. He is quite content with the fact that he will not get a bike for Christmas, he does understand the price difference now. All he knows is that he is the only one on our block that does not have a bike of his own and he has to beg the others for a turn to ride theirs. He doesn't complain - he is an amazing kid. He should not have to defend his Christmas wish. Just because I had a pony on my list as a child, and wanted one, does not mean that I expected my parents to get me one. It was a wish - period.

Thank you again. Thank you for giving, for stopping by, for letting me improve your Christmas in some small way.

Chica said...

thanks for sharing! I'm going to make sure to donate a gift today to help other families in need. thanks for the inspiration. :)


Kyla said...

This was entirely heartwarming. I'm so happy for you and your kids. Beautiful.

Deer Antler for Pups said...

Good for you for being resourceful and finding a way to create a Merry Christmas for your family. Congratulations on working hard to keep the gifting in perspective. Its hard.
Television, and the media does not fuel good feeling of contentment. Its there job to produce "want" not "enough" so if I would have one suggestion, sell or limit your children s usage to a bare minimum, unload the cable if times are tight, and give your children an extra free holiday gift--imaginations, that lives outside the box.
May Your New Year happy and Merry.

Smiling, Beguiling said...

What a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing your story w/ us (screw those who think they should judge you here). Hugs & may you have a happy Christmas!

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Neha Wasnik said...

thank you for this I'm praying for my xmas miracle but it isnt anything in material rather my prayers of love answered in the lives of whom i care deeply