Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Angel Tree with the Least of the These

My daughter is a 'least of these'. She's actually my foster daughter and has been in DHS custody for over a year; she and her younger brother have been with my husband and I since July of this year. They were placed with us about a week after I started my job as a grant writer here at Salvation Army. These kids are hilarious, fun, exhausting and challenging; we love it, but we are finding that we have to be very intentional about teaching them "Life Lessons,"while we can.

My husband and I have always shopped for Angels off the Angel Tree in the past, usually one for him- a boy- and one for me- a girl. This year, we have 2 little ones to buy for already, but I was loathe to give up tradition. So this year, I decided to include our foster kids.

We made it out to the Angel Tree kickoff at Promenade Mall. At age 5, Miss M (as we call her in blog-land) was unimpressed with the kickoff in general--too loud. But she did like the girls' singing group, MP3, in their matching outfits and "shiny hair."
MP3 girls group at the Angel Tree Kickoff (11/17/12)

After Kickoff, we picked out a Angel from the big tree, just her age, named "Lisbeth" and set off to pick out some gifts for "her Angel."

At first, she did a great job of picking out toys. She "ennie meenie mineie mo'd" between which Baby Alive doll 'Lisbeth' was to get- Hair Salon Baby Alive or Magic Meals Baby Alive.

Hair Salon, duh.

But she struggled a bit with stocking stuffers, as we picked out Hello Kitty stickers and pencils and Disney princess playing cards. I gently asked her if she was picking out things for herself or for Lisbeth, and she admitted they were for her. But soon we were back on the right track. 
Miss M's letter to her Angel.
Every time we added something to the bag, we would talk a little about what we were doing and why. In my own blundering, non-parental way, I tied to impress on her how it is important to share what she has, to be grateful for those who love her and that there is always someone who has less than you do. 

Miss M is pretty smart, but I think the literal and logistics of the Angel Tree, may have gotten blurry during our conversations. She asked me, the day I went to take the Angel Tree bag in to work, "How will she get them {the toys}, up in Heaven?" I stifled a giggle and tried to explain that our "Angel" was a real girl, just like her, and that she needed extra toys and we were like her personal Santa! How fun!

Santa, she understood.

And boy, I felt like Santa, when I went to check in shelve the Angel bag. I walked past row after row of shelves, 3 levels high, with toy bags packed in, till I found Lisbeth's family bag.

Turns out, she's the youngest of 4 girls. And her bag was the last one to be added to the families' bag. Those lovely little girls would all get all their hearts desired, thanks to people they didn't know.
As I marked the bag tag with a big "C" for  "Complete," I felt the warehouse dust prick my nose. And eyes. Lots of tear-inducing dust in the warehouse.
 And I don't know about you, but I've been near tears many times since (including today, as I wrote this post), thinking about the poor babies in Newtown, Connecticut. So close in age to Miss M and Lisbeth and so many of my friends' kids. So close to Christmas. Lodged in our hearts and the back of our throats.

But as a donor said to me this afternoon, as I took her donation for the Angel Tree over the phone, "it's the least I can do for kids in need, especially this Christmas."

So, do what you can. Shine a light in the dark. There is always someone more in need than you. Miss M can attest.