This year for Christmas we decided to sign up for Adopt a Family through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. We discussed that instead of exchanging gifts with one another, it would be much more meaningful to use that money for someone who needed it and would appreciate it more.
I had so many ideas in my mind about what this experience would be like. I was sure that Justyn and I would end up shopping together for a bunch of toys, dolls, little people clothes, and coloring books. Then, we would work together to wrap the gifts for the kids – kinda like the elves at the North Pole! It would be this magical holiday moment that we would share together as the perfect newlywed couple.
I could not have been more WRONG!
I was disappointed, distressed, and surprised by the entire process. To be completely honest, I went on an emotional roller-coaster ride this weekend. Yes, there were tears. But in the end, I could not be happier with the result and can’t wait to “adopt” our 2nd family next year!
Here are the highlights and low-points of my experience (my thoughts included):
- At sign up, we asked for a family with 1 boy & 1 girl. We were surprised when they were not little kids, they were actually teenagers (13 & 17).
- They explained that we should drop off the gifts unwrapped and provide gift wrap for the parents so they can do the wrapping themselves. Ok, ok. I get this, it will mean a lot to the parents just to be able to wrap their own children’s gifts. It’s got to be tough enough not being able to buy the gifts themselves.
- The list of gift ideas provided for the girl only included one item: Gift Cards. Total bummer here, what in the world will I get for this girl??? She just wants money to pick-out and buy her own things! But really, what girl doesn’t want that?
- The list of gift ideas provided for the boy only included two things: a Bike and/or Skateboard. First off, the bike is not going to fall between the $75-$100 limit. Maybe the skateboard, but I don’t know anything about what kind to get. Plus we’re supposed to get at least 3 gifts… this big purchase wouldn’t leave much left for other items.
- A list of clothing sizes was included for the boy, so that was a plus. This might be something I can work with.
- After a few weeks of
brainstormingstressing about gift ideas for this family, I finally felt somewhat ready to go shopping. I just want them to like the gifts, to appreciate the effort, and most importantly to feel satisfied by our small donation.
- Lately Justyn has been super busy and stressed with work, so I didn’t even want to ask if he’d like to go shopping with me. Better just leave him at home, I’ll find what I’m looking for faster without him.
- While shopping, I surprisingly felt like I was easily finding some great gifts for these kids. I was actually excited about what I had purchased, I really felt like I did a good job. But what if they don’t like these things, what if I was completely off-track thinking they would like what I picked out?
- On the way home, I couldn’t wait to see Justyn and show-off what I got. But something was wrong, I felt sick. I had this sudden pang in my
chest, stomach, heart, somewhere. I had no idea where it was coming from!
- At home, I started sorting through all the gifts. I was really excited now, I definitely found some awesome things! Then, out of nowhere, I started crying… I couldn’t stop it… and I was officially a mess.
- Poor Justyn was summoned to help me out. We talked forever about what could be bothering me: maybe I’m homesick, maybe I’m stressed, maybe I’m just tired? But, I kept coming back to my feelings about the Adopt a Family. I was so worried whether or not they would like the gifts. But, why?
- I started feeling a little better after my chat with Justyn. I began looking over the “rules” to make sure I had everything covered for this donation. Then, I noticed something. There was a faint section of writing, like a message that had been half-way erased. It was a note from the mom that read: “Thank you for your generosity, it is very much appreciated. If it wasn’t for this, my kids would not have a Christmas this year.” Here it comes, the flood of emotions! Tears, everywhere. Of course they will like our gifts! They wouldn’t have anything to open on Christmas if it wasn’t for us.
- In the end, I feel good… really good. I am so happy we decided to do this and I am so happy we got this particular family. What a special experience for me. I’m glad this wasn’t what I expected, that just made it so much better!
Long story over, here’s what they got: