These days it seems like electronics are everywhere. Seriously. You can’t walk down the street without seeing someone texting furiously or bopping along to their iPod. Really young kids are using phones that should take a PhD to use, not to mention the iPads, Nooks, Kindle Fires, gaming consoles, etc that seem to be running rampant in every household.
There’s nothing wrong with all of this stuff. If you have the money to blow on fancy phones and electronic gadgets, power to ya. I have my Samsung Fascinate, plain ol’ Kindle, Wii, laptop. I bought them with my own money, usually having to save before I can just go out and buy these things.
I did get my iPod for Christmas years ago and that was pretty dang exciting. That was the last year we exchanged gifts with the family. All of us girls are grown with husbands of our own and don’t really need a lot of stuff. Sure, the iPod was nice but I could have bought one myself if I had really wanted one. It got to the point where we were so stressed and grumpy about trying to find something to buy for someone that it kind of ruined the holiday for us. We’d usually end up buying some crap that they didn’t really need or want and wasting money.
That’s not what Christmas is supposed to be about, at least not in our minds. We should have been focusing on the joy of spending time with each other, having fun, playing games, drinking wine and cider, eating a delicious meal lovingly made, and being truly thankful for our blessings. Things had really gotten off kilter and we were determined to fix that.
As a family, we decided to forego the gift giving for each other and do something more worthwhile with that money we would spend on junk. My mom came up with the idea for Angel Tree. She works at a bank and they get a bunch of names each year of needy kids whose families couldn’t afford any gifts for them. Seemed like a perfect solution to our dilemma: make the season about someone else rather than ourselves and give the gift of Christmas to a little kid. What could be better than that?!?
Well, how about giving the gift of Christmas to LOTS of little kids???
Mom and I go grocery shopping every week at Wal-Mart (don’t hate. On a VERY tight budget and it’s cheap) and we always end up looking through clearance stuff whether it be clothing or toys or whatever. We realized that if we spent $20 here $30 there, we were able to get some really cool stuff: stuffed animals, clothing, basketballs, soccer balls, books, activity sets, tons of cool toys, bath and body sets for teenagers, cologne for the older boys, fingernail polish sets, things for kids of all ages. Most of the Angel Tree names asked for one thing as their “gift” as well as listing age, gender, and clothing and shoe size. Mom and I would shop all year long, checking the clearance throughout the store every friggin’ weekend and buying things before we even had the names. We did babies on up to teenagers. I usually have two huge totes full of stuff plus the shelves in my closet are packed with stuff. When we would get our names, we were able to give the kids like 3 or 4 things instead of only the one they asked for. Talk about a good feeling 🙂 Getting the names off the Angel Tree and going through our pages of items to pick and choose things that child might enjoy is the highlight of our Christmas season. Other than spending time together on Christmas Eve/Day of course 😉
But something has started happening over the years that has ruined it for us.
The requests over the last couple years have been getting more and more…what’s the word I’m looking for…uuummmm….
That’s the only way to put it. Instead of basketball, books, clothes we are seeing things like this: iPhone, Wii console, PS3, games for the various gaming consoles, Kindles, iPods, digital cameras, bikes…one parent (assuming it’s a parent since a 18 month old can’t write) asked for an activity set that costs like $300!!!!!!!!
Ummm…HUH??!!?? *shakes head*
I’m not sure who is in charge of Angel Tree but are they really checking and monitoring what the parents or kids are writing down? One tag I saw had a teenager asking for Vera Wang clothing.
Honey, I can’t afford to buy myself that clothing! How dare you ask for something so outrageous and expensive when you are supposed to be in desperate need?
Are we turning into a society that considers things like iPhones and Wii consoles and Vera friggin’ Wang clothing as NEEDS??? I understand that the stuff we buy for Angel Tree isn’t always stuff kids “need”. We always tried to balance giving them clothing, shoes, books and then stuff that is considered fun. But if a parent is signing up or asking for the charity of others to give their kids something for Christmas, then they damn sure shouldn’t be asking for stuff like iPods and Kindles. Angel Tree isn’t supposed to be “Hey, I can’t afford to get my kids expensive stuff so lets pretend we have no money and maybe someone else will buy it for them.” It’s crap. Plain and simple.
Instead of being excited imagining the child’s face at seeing they got four presents instead of one, I was left to wonder if they would open their gifts, see they didn’t get the mountain bike or X-Box they asked for, and be pissed off rather than grateful that someone spent their hard-earned money to get them something for Christmas.
I went this last Monday to get names off the Angel Tree at the bank where my mom works and rather than picking my usual 10-15 names (that’s not even a joke. Last year my mom and I did 40 names off the tree. The Angel Tree folks had to bring MORE names), I picked four.
And it ruined my day.
My mom’s office has a perfect view of the tree where the names are hanging. She watches customers come in, browse the names, and leave them where they are, shaking their heads. Some have even complained to the tellers, asking them how the charity people expect hard-working folks to give gifts like what the kids are asking for.
Doesn’t that just speak VOLUMES about what we’ve become? When seven year olds that are supposed to be in such desperate need that without the charity of others they would be getting nothing for Christmas are perfectly fine asking for things like digital cameras and X-Boxes (these are ACTUAL gifts written on the tags from two 7 year olds). And shame on the parents if they are telling their kids what to write or writing down the items themselves. It would make me sick to my stomach if I asked for things like that from a kind-hearted stranger rather than things y kids actually needed.
So thanks to you greedy jerks out there asking for stuff that is so inappropriate for a family that is supposed to be needy, my mother and I won’t be doing Angel Tree anymore. And it sucks. What used to be something so enjoyable has just turned sour. We’ve decided that we will donate to Toys For Tots and give to my church in hopes that the items we lovingly pick out will go to someone who actually wants them and NEEDS them.