Sunday Scribblings - "I Carry" Friday 11/16/07

This week’s prompt of “I carry” came at exactly the right time. I knew in moments what I had to write about. Could we please have a prompt next week that I can go back to “writing with a smirk”? It is much less painful..

I carry with me a heavy sadness that manifests itself during the Holiday Season. At no time is the disparity between the haves and the have-nots more evident than as Christmas approaches. The first pangs arrived today as I stood in front of a Salvation Army Angel Tree. I am certain that most people know what that is but in the event that one of my readers is from Neptune where there are no trees, or Dubai where there is no poverty, I will explain. The first name of a needy child is placed on a placard and hung from a Christmas tree. Along with the name is a present request and clothing sizes for the child. I am not sure how the children are selected as needy. I guess it is arbitrarily determined that there is a breakpoint for those in need and those not. I feel sorry for that child who barely misses the cut for needy and does not qualify for an anonymous gift. Anyway, you just select a child at random and provide some hope for Christmas. It is a great program and I participate every year.

One of the main reasons I participate in the Angel Tree is that in 1960, had they had such a program, I would have qualified. The Bunker Hill Company, which my dad worked for, was on strike for 220 days in 1960, ending on December 10th. We were living in Wyoming, where dad could find work in uranium mines, though he longed for the relative safety of lead (not much of a choice there). So a few days before Christmas we left Wyoming in a blizzard for northern Idaho, on bald tires and an 8 cylinder, running on about 5. Somewhere along the journey my dad purchased a Lionel electric train that I had been clamoring for. He did not have money for the necessities of life, but felt I needed a Christmas Present. My memories of all my 55 Christmases blend together but I remember Christmas that year more than any other. I remember it with a great sadness, which I have carried with me all these years. I know that I should be happy that my dad loved me enough to sacrifice for me. But I am not. I have carried with me a certain amount of guilt that a Holiday put him in that situation. I have sorrow that the Christmas Holiday has such a potential for sadness and disappointment. Most of all, I have remorse that I probably never said thank you for that sacrifice.

As I selected a child to sponsor, the sadness came in torrents. It is not a child’s fault that they are born into a situation by which they are deemed needy. It is not their presence that caused a parent to be unemployed, uneducated, unreliable, unlucky, unacceptable, untrained, unambitious, unappealing, unbefitting, uncoachable, unclean, unadept, undatable, uncultured, unequipped, undesirable, uneducable, unethical, unhirable, unfavored, unpolished, unpaid, unpardoned, unpleasing, unpolished, unlikable, unlaundered, unloving, unmanageable, unmotivated, unneighborly, unnamable, unprivileged, unprized, unrealistic, unproven, unpurified, unreceptive, unrestrained, unrespectable, unrefined, unremarkable, unabsolved, unacademic, unacclaimed, unaccomplished, unacquitted, unappreciated, unaromatic, unwed, unworkable, unsterilized, unsuitable, unteachable, unthrifty, unutilized, unvalued, undignified, undiplomatic, undiagnosed, uninsured, or unendowed. But, it is not necessarily the parents’ fault that they are needy. My dad was certainly not culpable. He was many of the uns listed above, but none by his own doing. He was a victim of circumstances. Yes, sometimes it is by their own choices: Alcoholism, drug addiction, laziness, abusiveness, abandonment, etc., but not always.

There are no guarantees that Charli, a 12-year-old girl who likes Hannah Montana and the High School Musical will actually receive the gifts I purchase for her. In the back of my mind is the vision of her guardian selling the size 14 pants to buy drugs. But I have to try. Maybe Charli’s daddy is just a victim of circumstances. Charli deserves to feel special, at least at Christmas.