When I was a child I remember waking up one morning with the expectation of a less than stellar Christmas. My family was poor and my parents were doing the best they could to get by. Even at a young age I could see how hard things were; I could see the pain in their eyes and the reality that comes with that pain. Parents trick themselves into thinking that they’ve masked that pain; that they’ve kept it from their kids so that they may not feel the weight of its burden. The reality of it is that a great number of children know far more than they let on; my sisters and I did.
We knew what disappointment was because we had experienced it not only first hand, but through the eyes of those around us; disappointment with oneself and disappointment with the limitations of one’s station in life. I didn’t grow up believing in things like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny because I wasn’t afforded the luxury of those delusions. They were stripped away at such a young age that I can’t even remember now when I stopped believing or if I ever even believed at all. All I know is that while my parents worried about giving my siblings and I not only what we needed, but wanted as well, I worried about them. And that worry kept me grounded; it kept me from thinking that Santa Claus would show up and magically give me everything I wanted.
With that being said it was easy to not expect much come Christmas day when you know in the back of your mind that reality doesn’t mesh with desire; that no matter how hard my parents worked to give us everything they could, it didn’t come without struggle and their own disappointments. Time and time again they came up against one wall after another, making it seem like they would never catch a break. To say that their lives were difficult would be a dramatic understatement.
So imagine the wonder that we all felt when someone showed up at our door with presents upon presents; enough to fill half a room or more. Imagine our surprise when strangers gave us a Christmas that we would have otherwise never had. Imagine the brief reprieve from worry and disappointment that my parents undoubtedly felt time and time again. Imagine being a young child and feeling the weight of generosity from someone that you don’t even know. Imagine the impact of such an event; to expect little to nothing and receive more than you could even imagine.
To this day I get extremely emotional thinking about that Christmas when a complete stranger gave me a memory that undoubtedly helped shape the type of person I am today; when some random man or woman gave me back my childhood for even the briefest of moments. The feeling is more immense than most people could ever comprehend.
So yesterday to give thanks for that moment in time I decided to pay it forward; to sponsor a child of my own through my work. Today my sister and I gave back to someone who is most likely in the same boat we were in growing up. And even though we couldn’t do much, I’m hoping that it’s enough for that child to feel what I felt that day; to feel the weight of someone else’s generosity, not because of a desire to receive a pat on the back for a good deed, but for the feeling of knowing that I can make someone else’s life breathe easier in even the smallest of ways.
So here’s to you, Tyler. I don’t know you or what your life is like, but if your life is anything like mine was at your age, I hope that my gift to you is enough to make you forget about all of the worries you face and to give you back a piece of your childhood in the simplest of ways. My gift to you isn’t what I bought you; my gift to you is a memory and a feeling that is hard to explain. I’m giving you what was given to me and hoping that one day you’ll do the same for someone else in the same situation. Merry Christmas, Tyler.
Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry