I can’t believe it’s only eleven more days until Christmas. There’s still so much to do before then, right? Where is my Christmas to do list… wait. I didn’t make one, nor do I really have many Christmas things to do. Plenty of other busyness, but not as much related to Christmas, with the exception of work. So someone please tell me why I feel so busy and stressed? I suppose I do have two things that come to mind that are Christmas related.
I promised Dulce, or as we call her, Candy, a pair of mismatched shoes for Christmas. Candy is one of the beautiful kids down at Casa Hogar Elim. Her name fits her well. Every time I’m down there, Candy has the biggest hugs and the biggest smile, not only for me, but for everyone. If there’s a poster child for the love we feel from CHE, it’s Candy. She has always been intriguged by my carefully, deliberately mismatched shoes. Now Candy speaks about as much English as I do Spanish, so her desire to have a pair of mismatched shoes has been communicated through loving charades.
As much as I am looking forward to selecting this meaningful gift, there is no part of my being that wants to go anywhere near a mall or retail store. The only stores I have been to over the past month is a few used bookstores and stores with groceries. Food and books. Life’s necessities. Well, we can add mismatched shoes now too. I will keep you posted on my future shopping adventure.
The other thing I have to do is get passports for my kids. This is their big gift from me this year, and besides a few small gifts of books and such, that’s it. We are supporting charities for Christmas this year instead of buying a bunch of stuff we don’t need. And the beautiful thing about this? My kids are okay with it. At 9 or 10 years old, being the spoiled brat I was at that age, I’m not sure I would have accepted this paradigm shift from my parents.
Now one would think getting a passport might be a simple process, but like everything else in our bureaucratic, complex society, it is not. Their dad had to sign release forms, which also had to be notarized, and luckily he did. I suppose he didn’t have any desire to spend two hours in line with me any more than I did him. I took the kids a week ago right after school to get their passports, only to find out they only issue them between the hours of 10 and 3, Monday through Friday. I guess my choices are to pull my kids out of school or take them downtown and pay the enormous one day rush fees. I’ve decided. I’m going to pull the kids out of school one day this week and make a fun day of it. We’ll go to lunch, get the passports and do some other enjoyable things. I never thought I would look forward to standing in a line at the post office, but for this, I am. Maybe they will get creative with the Priority Mail tape like they did several years ago.
I want to teach my kids the right things, unlike what they learn by participating in our culture’s methods. When I was in Zambia five years ago, I caught a glimpse into a different world. It was a shocking world, as they had no electricity, no running water and none of the modern conveniences I had and take for granted. On a two hour bus ride, without my camera, I saw a happiness and contentment in people that I had never seen before. Had I not had my kids to come home to, I might have jumped off the bus and never been seen again in the US.
I have to say, my first reaction to this scenario was that I wanted to give these people all of the things I had, not just the essential commodities, but the things that make us happy. Computers, internet, flat screen TV’s, cell phones, cars, kitchen appliances, toys and the list goes on. Yet something didn’t feel right. It didn’t take me long to see that these people had something I didn’t, but something I desperately wanted. Something I still greatly want. Peace. Happiness. Fulfillment. And most of all, contentment. I’m not quite sure how or when my thought process changed, but I have no desire to give them a TV anymore, or any of the other things we can’t live without. I do still want to give them clean, running water and warm shelter though.
I wish I had never been spoiled by all of the materialism and possessions of our American culture, because now I’m addicted. I need my computer and my iPhone. I need my nice house and my car. Could I experience true happiness with out all this stuff? I feel burdened with my knowledge, shackled with electronics and locked in a cell of selfishness and greed. I know these people I’m speaking of have a whole different set of struggles in life, but they get it. They are happy and content. Why? Because they don’t have all of the distractions to keep them from having deep relationships with the people around them. I’ll bet they aren’t looking for the Christmas spirit like I am. I hope to someday experience just tiny bit of what they do.