It seems impossible to believe that Christmas is nearly here. Our space is small and we’ve done what little we could to decorate our tiny 2′ tall Norfolk Island Pine that sits on our dinette table. (Our only table!) No huge light strands or outside decorations because we’ve nowhere to store them once the season is over. The tree is live: good for Mother Earth and good for our space as it will make a beautiful present to a friend once we are ready to leave on New Year’s Day. Austin has a stocking hanging from one of the overhead cabinet knobs and our Christmas cards are taped to the refrigerator.
What’s really difficult is gift giving when living in a small space. Every item purchased must be very carefully thought out. Where will it be stored when moving so that it doesn’t learn how to fly? Is there space for it to be used? Does it require electricity or to plug in to the TV? Will it actually get used enough to consider a place for it in our tiny, 168 square foot home?
It’s a true test of necessity and desire. The fine balance between what you have to make space for and what you, for no true reason, can’t live without. Items like laptops and Legos, what is our top priority? What do we move or eliminate to make room for the new?
Luckily the grandparents sent gift cards this year. Always difficult when you receive something that has to be returned, re-gifted or left in a storage room. Of course, our ‘house’ is in a storage room, a POD full of furniture, treasured items, and things we can live without but truly want back one day when we once again move into a sticks-and-bricks home.
But for now we’re enjoying the freedom of not being attached to so many things. There’s a box full of presents in the camper ‘basement’ storage, and tomorrow night I’ll clear the dinette to make room for their delivery. Once unwrapped, unboxed, and the games are removed from their sleeves, they will take very little from our space, but despite their size, they are guaranteed to make a little boy a very happy one come Christmas morning!
Last year at UUCEP we had a big box in the back for people to bring in gifts to donate and we had a good response but the varieties of gifts were pretty wide-ranged. This year we decided on a Giving Tree for foster children through CASA El Paso. As many know, this is when you set up a Christmas tree in a hall, or in our case in the sanctuary, with tags hung on it describing various children and their gift wishes for Christmas.
Before the tree was even set up Austin and I spied the envelope with tags in it in the office while we were putting together our travel poster. We looked through the many cards and Austin clued in on some boys close to his age and wanting gifts that he would love himself. I told him that we had to choose just one and put the others back for the giving tree but Austin didn’t like this. He asked why he couldn’t choose two and I explained that there were other people in the church that would want to donate also.
I decided to ask him why, why did he want two? It’s not like he’s getting the gifts himself (as many young children would feel) and he wouldn’t even get to meet the children. But Austin said decisively, “Because I feel so bad for them. They don’t have as much as I have.” And there it was, the growth, the maturity, and my parental pride all balled up inside of him and me.
So I promised him that we would check the tree in a couple weeks and see if any tags were missed. If so, we would take them and go straight to the store for more gifts for the children.
You see, my son Austin is adopted. A beautiful soul that was a gift to me and is now a gift to the world.
CASA of El Paso trains and supports volunteers from the community to advocate for abused and neglected children who need representation in the family court system, striving to provide them a safe and permanent home.
For more information, visit www.casaofelpaso.com.