Saturday, December 13, 2008

Toys for Tots and Hard Time Reflections

As I shopped online for toys for baby Nic’s first Christmas, I came across an old childhood favorite, Careers. Oh the hours I spent playing that one with the cousins. I will teach Nic to play cards and board games and I promise to be more patient with CandyLand than I was with Nic’s dad.

Well, shopping and thinking about toys is something I haven’t done for so long that I’m kind of out of practice. My venture to Toys R Us last Sunday was a great disappointment. I felt so out of my element. I prefer to shop online and the toy I ordered from Amazon arrived in a couple of days.

Toys are a large part of my life at work too as they pour in as we prepare to fill the wish lists of the kids in our Christmas program. The folks at Toys for Tots where we get a lot of toys from are reporting that donations are down, and yesterday we got far fewer than last year. It’s been a struggle at our non-profit. We don’t know yet what the end result will be, but it is safe to say Santa is adjusting to leaner times.

Which all leads me to wonder, what course of materialism have we set ourselves up for? Have we built up our children’s expectations too high? Have we lived too far beyond our means for far too long?

I remember Mom talking about the Great Depression and being thankful to get oranges and peppermint candy canes at Christmas time. She knew the meaning of doing without. We Baby Boomers and our Generation X and Next offspring really do not yet know that lesson.

Mom’s Okie family fell on hard times and headed off to California when the Dust Bowl hit, wiping the topsoil needed for healthy crops off of their little hardscrabble farm. They got as far as Arizona. The kids old enough picked cotton alongside Granny and my grandfather. After a time, they loaded up the truck and headed back to Oklahoma and got by with the help of family. Not until WWII did things turn around. Mom went off to work for the government in Washington, D. C. and the country rebounded.

So, dear gentle readers, while I reflect and ponder these questions, I still am encouraged by the true spirit of Christmas. I see it everyday in the people giving to those less fortunate. Officemates who give up their traditional gift exchanges in favor of helping others. School kids who emptied their piggy banks and delivered an envelope stuffed with dollars and coins. Scouts, Key Clubs, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis, Lions, churches of all kinds, businesses, individuals. They are coming through.

As one donor said to me, “I am doing ok—at least for now.” I like that. Me too—at least for now


Marion said...

I wanted to give my children more opportunities and more Stuff than I had as a child. And I went too far, because I can remember being thrilled with only one big gift when I was a child. I gave too many big gifts, I think. I am grateful my children were unselfish enough to look beyond that, towards charity and giving to the less fortunate.

I'm glad you're doing ok, for now!

UmmFarouq said...

I'm ok for now, too, and that's all I can really ask for.

I have a friend from the Philippines who lived with us for a few months. She always marveled at the toys my kids have (but hardly play with), as well as how they tend to neglect to care for their personal belongings. She told my then three year old daughter,
"I had a doll growing up. My mother was able to give me ONE doll. And when it broke, I never had another one."

She broke my heart. We are such consumers.

May this holiday season be filled with blessings--the intangible ones that only come from family and friends.

Sarge Charlie said...

Hi Miss Sheila
You have a big heart, maybe that is why we as polar opposites can be good friends. Form one old Sharecropper's son to another good southern girl, Merry Christmas and Hoping the New Year will bring you much Joy.....

Sarge Charlie said...

Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Prospero Ano y Felicidad.

I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
From the bottom of my heart.

Naomi said...

Just stopped by to wish you and your family a very Happy Christmas Sheila.

Thanks for reminding us all the importance of remembering others less fortunate than ourselves at this special time of year.

Palm Springs Savant said...

Hi Sheila- Just stopped by to wish you a Merry Christmas.


Jackie said...

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas Sheila and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2009.

Sheila said...

Merry Christmas to my readers. I appreciate each and every comment and your thoughtfulness continues to warm my heart.

jan said...

When I first shopped for a grandson present I went into culture shock at the toy store. Everything, it seemed, was high tech. Finally I found a toy truck, big, wooden and sturdy. Guess what my grandson played with all Christmas day.

Marshamlow said...

Happy New Year. I hope this year brings you and yours great health and prosperity.

Palm Springs Savant said...

Sheila- just stopped by to wish you a Happy New Year. Hope all is well.


Marion said...

Just came by to wish you a really great 2009! And to send you some Reiki blessings...