As we head into the Holiday Season – a time of festive overindulgence – it’s hard for parents to keep their children grounded. I do my best to remind the Shumway kids how lucky they are but this year I am vowing to do a little more…and it started last week.
When I realized that Ben and Georgia would be off from school for teacher development day (an event that strikes fear into the heart of every two-working-parent family), I had an idea.
Our neighbor Martha was organizing a load of everything from clothes and blankets to toys to send down to the hardest hit victims of Hurricane Sandy and seeing a golden opportunity, I seized it.
I armed the kids with giant plastic garbage bags, duct tape, sharpies and a list of items in demand. Although I’d love to say that they could hardly wait to get started, the truth is that they were both hoping to log a little more couch time on their day off. However, once they saw how much these people had lost and how much extra we had, they got on board.
Now, I’ll admit, this task helped not only the good people of NY and NJ but also the good mother who had two conference calls to dial into that morning. There’s nothing wrong with spreading the love around, I say.
After seeing the four bags they had put together – all clearly labeled as toys, stuffed animals, blankets and clothes – it was clear that they had taken the time to do it right and I was very proud.
Although Ben said that it was hard to give away his puzzles, he told me, “It’s important that they have some entertainment.” Georgia donated about 20 of her stuffed animals and noted “they are really comfy and soft for snuggling, and they are make people happy.”
Although I wasn’t quite sure that puzzles and stuffed animals were all that necessary to send the thousands of people without heat or hot water, I realized that for those kids like Georgia and Ben, they might be of more importance than patching a leaky roof. While their parents would be relieved for clothes and blankets, that once-loved Teddy Bear might be what puts the biggest smile on the tiniest face.
I’m going to make more of an effort to foster the giving spirit this season in ways that are meaningful to them. We’re having friends over this weekend and asking guests to bring canned goods that we will all donate to the Dedham Food Pantry.
Georgia gave one of her own dollars to two little girls playing their violins outside of Mocha Java while they were also fundraising for Sandy victims. We’ll pick names off of the Angel Tree at Saint Mary’s Church and donate to our favorite Holiday organization, Globe Santa. What I’ve learned is that we are lucky to be surrounded by so many charitable people here in Dedham, so getting inspired is easy.
While I’m sure that my upcoming suggestion of foregoing Christmas presents in exchange for a nice charity donation will go over like a lead balloon, it’s important to remember that even the lucky kids are allowed a little indulgence too. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?