Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Kindness of (Semi) Strangers

If anyone is looking for a restoration of faith in mankind, then you've come to the right place. It should come as no surprise that the holidays can be kind of depressing. I'm still not over the divorce and its consequential fracturing of my family, the family of which I always dreamed. In fact, I've been so miserable that I was contemplating a post on suicidal thoughts, a frequent companion of mine, and I'll probably still write that. However, something happened today that absolutely trumps that sort of subject, and I hope that it will inspire everyone who has become a little jaded with the conspicuous consumption that now seems so much a hallmark of the holidays.

I have two relatively new coworkers...they're working with us on a temporary basis, due to enhancements provided by the stimulus (okay, I work for a grant); however, they're both lovely people and I consider them friends as well as coworkers.

One of them also works for a thrift store in her hometown, and she's asked several questions recently about my children (sizes, etc.) that led me to believe that she would get them something for Christmas. I tried to demur, but, whether I feel deserving or not (and the answer is...NOT), well, this isn't about me - it's about my children. At any rate, earlier this morning I was sort of "lured" from my office (an aside: I'm one of those frustratingly literal people; I cannot read between the lines or sense nuance, so I'm easily bamboozled by any sort of subterfuge). When I returned, about 10 minutes later, my door was shut, but I didn't think much of this and opened it. I am not kidding when I say that my office was virtually filled with gifts for my children. A beautiful winter jacket for each of them, several outfits apiece, toys, hats, name it.
I knew from whom it had come, although what I didn't know was that it wasn't just my coworker, but HER coworkers at the thrift store, as well. I had been fretting the last several days, while shopping and wrapping, hoping that I had done enough for my children for Xmas, all the while realizing that I can tend toward overcompensation, largely because of the transgressions I've described in previous posts. I mean, I know, academically, that nothing will ever make up for the monumental fallout from my bad judgment; but intuitively, I still...I don't know, reach, I guess, for something that will, at the very least, distract from what I've done to them.

Last night, during a conversation with my son, we talked about Santa Claus. He is ten, and really doesn't believe in Santa, but we've had a few talks about the fact that his 3-year-old sister does, and that under no circumstances should this be spoiled for her. But he said something that, in hindsight, seems incredibly prescient. He asked me, again, about if there really was a Santa. I, in turn, asked him what he thought. He said, "I think, Mom, that if I believe in him, then he's real." I know that every mother out there thinks that their children are remarkable, but I have to say that my boy is...well, let me put it this way: He's been, by several different people, characterized as an "old soul", someone who, perhaps, has been here before. No matter what your personal beliefs on such subjects are, the fact is that my son has an amazing amount of emotional maturity, so much so that he shames me on a regular basis - not, of course, on purpose, but he does nonetheless.

I cannot help but think that, this morning, my son's belief was made real.


giggles said...

Damn. You crushed my cynicism.... There is good in the world. I'm glad it happened to you and your children. Merry Christmas!

a rose is a rose said...

santa IS real to me and i am wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy older than your son. he's a million percent right. it's not often a ten year old has such insight.

i was brought up catholic. i no longer am. if i had to define myself it would be pagan.

I DO BELIEVE in the holiday spirit. i DO BELIEVE no matter how badly i feel about me, my circumstances or the like there are others who get by under nastier circumstances.

i DO BELIEVE i have no choice but to share what i have. sure at christmas time, but ALL through the year as well.

blessed be

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Yeh, that story did it for me. Christmas spirit...go figure. Hope you have a great holiday with the kids. That is what it's all about anyways.

Raine said...

What a great post! Sometimes things work out alright :D