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Mar 24,   SusanDay on Being a Grandparent

9th Apr a snipit from HELLO MYRMIDON

Early December, 1965

Hi Myrmidon,

How are you doing?  I think of you every day, cooped up in that small room, away from the Christmas that you have always known.  Do you think you will feel differently about Christmas after this time away from your family and friends?   I am really surprised how different Christmas is for me now after our talks the past few weeks.  It is almost like I have on a new pair of glasses. A lot of things are coming into focus now that I either never noticed before or I saw totally differently.  Is this what it is like to be an adult?  How did you feel when you started to realize that you were not a child anymore?

I seem to see things now in a whole new light with my new glasses.  I notice how people respond to a smile, compared to when I just walk by and glance at them absentmindedly.  I have casually watched as people examine the tags on the Christmas giving trees, and how they choose which tag they will take.  Some want to get a tag for a kid the same age as their own kid or grandkid, and some just grab one and go.  Others keep looking until they find one that has a request for something they can afford, or a toy they are familiar with. 

Sometimes I can talk to them, and it is really interesting the things I find out about why they are even looking at the tags at all.  Some just want to donate because it is Christmas, and this is the easiest way for a busy person to spend a few dollars anonymously to spread a little joy to a kid who doesn’t have much.  Others have kids that are grown and gone from home now, but they still want to have the fun of shopping for little kids at Christmas.  I am used to being the one who receives Christmas gifts, not one who thinks of finding out what other kids want, and then shopping for them.  In a way it is lots more fun, because the good feeling seems to last lots longer and be more satisfying.  Is that what it is like, being an adult?  Wow, so much more than I realized.

I also have been helping at the Donation Center, as the people bring in the toys.  The majority of the people who come with gifts are working people, mostly moms and a few dads too.  But I have also seen some people there who are obviously not well-to-do.  If they have kids they might even be qualified to be recipients of the donated toys, but they are using their meager funds to share with other needy kids. Sometimes they even bring a gift that doesn’t have any tag because they waited ‘til the last minute for a payday, so they couldn’t find a tag that had a request that they could afford. Their presents are not as fancy or high end as those brought in by the wealthier people, but they are heart felt, and appreciated all the same. See what I mean by new glasses?  I never would have noticed that before, I would have expected everyone to bring in fancy toys or none at all.

 I helped with the sorting of the toys. We checked to see that they all had batteries and whatever they needed to be complete, and made sure the tag was kept with the toy.  And when it was time to wrap the gifts, retired people and those who don’t work in the daytime came and wrapped during the day while I was in school.  Then a lot of people who work hard every day at low paying jobs donated their time in the evenings.  They wrapped ‘til late in a cold building where you have to stop every so often to warm your hands over the portable heater.  Even in LA it can get pretty chilly in December in an unheated warehouse building late at night.  They selflessly showed up night after night until the job was done. I was there too, observing all of them as I wrapped, laughing and joking and having a great time, ignoring the cold and the mountain of toys still to be wrapped.

It was like a party really.  Each night we left feeling upbeat and happy, even knowing that there was still a huge pile of gifts to take care of.  Slowly the pile got smaller until all the gifts were wrapped, tagged, and sorted.  They are now ready to be distributed, along with a box of food and other donated items sent over from the food bank for each family.  That is the next step, so I am really looking forward to watching each family come in with their kids to pick up the boxes assigned to them. They will be doing that on Saturday, so I will be able to be there to see the look on the faces of the kids and parents when they see what they get.

As always,  A


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