Monday, December 21, 2009

A Colorado Christmas Story

I’ve been driving my loved ones crazy this year with my Christmas wish list – or, should I say, lack thereof. There’s just not a whole lot of buyable stuff that I want or need right now. And by “buyable”, I mean the items I really want include a motorcycle, a Jeep Wrangler, and my debt to be paid off (basically things that you can’t just swing by Wal-Mart and pick up).

Besides, I’ve been so ridiculously blessed this year, that I almost feel greedy asking for anything more. In 2009 I found a good job that lets me pay rent at a great apartment in the best city I’ve ever been in (and I’ve been to a bunch). Oh, and I got to marry my best friend.

Those were a bunch of big wishes that had been sitting on the list for a while that all came true this year, so I’ve been feeling pretty good already.

With all of that in mind, my Wife and I really wanted to bless some of the less fortunate people in our community – especially now that I have more financial resources than I’ve ever had in the past.

Meaning I finally earn more than zero dollars.

The only problem is that we didn’t know where to start. There are so many opportunities to help people that it can get overwhelming. Having a heart for others is one of the strongest bonds my Wife and I share, so at first we wanted to write a check to everyone. After a while, I almost got downtrodden at how much need there actually is out there and how little we could actually contribute.

We finally got a hold of ourselves and decided to just concentrate on one area at a time.

Our church is involved with a regional outreach project (kinda like Angel Tree where a bunch of churches set up a Christmas tree in their lobbies and hang cards with gift ideas on it for local families that are struggling financially) and my Wife saw a card on our church’s tree that she knew I would never say no to. She found a five year old boy that was asking for a Mickey Mouse train set.

We all know my love – OK, obsession – with trains so I was immediately sold.

I just didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be to find a Mickey Mouse train set. I went everywhere locally tracking down a train set that was somehow Mickey Mouse related but couldn’t find anything close.

My family and friends kept telling me to just get a generic train set and that the child was going to be thrilled to be receiving any presents but that wasn’t good enough for me.

I was now on a mission and I knew I had to go to the King store of all things toys.

I had to go to Toys 'R’ Us .

I probably haven’t been in a Toys 'R’ Us in something like 15-17 years (maybe longer) and there was a part of me that was actually kind of excited about strolling down the aisles of memory lane once again. Then my Wife and I actually got into the store and I instantly remembered why I hadn’t been there in almost two decades.

The store was just a packed war zone of greed and commercialism – or, America at its finest.

And as we trudged our way through crowded walkways, we still could not find any Mickey Mouse brand train set. Here I am trying to do something nice for someone else, and I’m swearing (sorry, mom!) in the aisles of Toys 'R’ Us amongst mortified parents trying to earmuff their kids because I’m growing more and more scared of going to hell because I ruined some kid’s Christmas because I couldn’t find him a Mickey Mouse train set.

‘Tis the season to be me, baby.

My poor Wife was trying desperately to rein me in, but I was officially a lost cause at this point. I was a few more minutes away from booking a flight to the Disney headquarters before she finally talked me down and got me to settle on a top of the line generic train set. Just to appease my guilt, I made sure to find a Mickey Mouse toy figure to go with the train.

Mission accomplished.

This past Saturday, my Wife and I went to help deliver the presents with all of the area churches. We didn’t get to actually deliver the train set to our kid but two things jumped out to me from the experience. (1) As much as I stay frustrated with humanity, it was pretty cool to see that many people giving up their Saturday to help out. There is still some good out there, I guess. (2) Based on the reaction of the kids that we did get to see, I think my friends and family were right: kids are just stoked to get stuff for Christmas no matter what it is; especially when times are tough.

I personally get so caught up with specifics, that sometimes I forget to just give, whether that’s of my resources or even as simple as my time.

I can’t wait for Christmas morning in a couple of days. It’s going to be so cool for my Wife and I to sit by our decorated tree, in our apartment, in our town and just bask in the knowledge of how far we’ve come in just a year and the bright path we seem to be on heading into the future.

And just hope that kid likes his generic, non-Mickey Mouse train set.

This is gonna haunt me for the rest of my life.


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