Over the past holiday season, my mom’s sorority decided to adopt a family that was going through hard times. They took care of the family for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and plan on continuing to help them during the year (birthdays, etc). The family was referred to them by one of the sorors who is a principal at the school the children attend. Naturally, my mom reached out to me to help with extra contributions because she knows I love doing things like that. When I asked about the family, what she told me made me a little uneasy, but I helped like I was asked because you never know why people are in the situations they’re in and of course we all could use a helping hand from time to time.
The family consists of a mother in her mid thirties (I think she’s 37) with seven children ranging in age from 2 years to 20 years. There are two grandchildren that live in the household as well. The husband (note I didn’t say father) is in jail serving a 15-20 year sentence for goodness only knows what; he’s several years into the sentence. Apparently the kids have four different fathers and the man mom married is the father of the two youngest. The mom has a job (and has had said job for years), but ends don’t come close to meeting, especially for the holidays. My mom’s soror said the woman had never asked for anything in the past, but lately the kids have been coming to school with clothing that’s worn out and/or doesn’t fit, and the kids have been stealing from the cafeteria. When asked what she wanted for Christmas, she said, “…Candy canes so my kids can have something to open on that day”. Heartstrings were sufficiently tugged.
I was uneasy because I couldn’t understand why someone so young hand so many kids that she knew she couldn’t afford. I also felt some kind of way contributing to someone that is the definition of statistic and who fits every kind of stereotype. But I thought about the kids and shopped anyway. Tasha loves the kids! I bought some clothes and toys and sent them up to my mom. The sorority gave her a turkey and all of the fixings for Thanksgiving. Great. For Christmas, they decided to give her a Christmas tree. My mom had an extra one (I don’t know who other than her has random extra trees laying around like that, but whatevs), so decided to give that one to this lady.
When the lady heard about it she was happy, but started acting real funky. Every day in the first week of December, she’d call either my mom or one of the other sorors (or several of them) talking about, “Where is my tree? Y’all need to hurry up and bring my tree. I want my tree here by Saturday and it better be pre-lit. I don’t want to be stringing up lights and ish”. No kind of ‘please’ or gratitude, just demands. On the Friday before Christmas she called again, and I spoke to her – D and I had gone up to NY for the holidays. She had the audacity to tell me, “My babies like Ne.w Bal.ance sneakers, so I’mma need yall to get the new ones for the girls”. I hung up the phone in her ear. I was so salty because here we are trying to play Santa for this chick and her brood, and she has the nerve to tell us what to get for her, when she couldn’t afford to give them a Christmas herself!
I had to pray about it, because my instinct was to take back every.single.thing I bought and get my money back and use that money to get a new pair of boots and a new coat for myself. Once again, I thought about the kids and the fact that they’re innocent and didn’t ask for this woman to be their mother/grandmother so I did what I thought was the right thing and let the gifts stay. On Christmas Eve night, all of us dressed in our best Santa hats, went over to her home, delivered the gifts, then rolled out. I got excited hoping the kids wouldn’t wake up and see us putting gifts under their tree.
From all accounts, the kids loved their gifts and the younger ones really thought Santa had been there. I suppose that’s what the magic of the holidays is all about. The plan was to continue helping them throughout the year, but all of us are torn. What would you do? Would you continue to help the kids or would you chalk it up as a lesson learned in greed?