When I got older and was too old to look forward to a visit from Santa I learned the true meaning of Santa. Santa is real by the way just so all of you who say no Santa is not real know otherwise. Santa use to be a real person. Now he is a memory. A tradition carried on. When you give to someone without expecting anything back just doing it to feel warmth from their happiness and smiles you are helping Santa live on. I have another memory I hold dear to me. When I was 17 years old I worked for 2 ladies working in their horse barn. One of the ladies was working on a Doll house for some little girls. I sat down watching her work on it one night and me being the questioning type played 20 questions with her about the doll house and why was she making it. This family of 7 I think it was had fallen on hard times. They came to Oregon in hopes of living the all American dream basicly. They wanted to live in a nice place in the country where the kids could have values and live safely. They got tricked into buying a house that had no lights, no windows and only one wood heater in the middle of the living room.
I went home that night and told my mom the story about this family that I had just been told. Not only were they cheated out of a safe and warm home, but the father was out of work. Only income was what him and his older boys done on the side for extra cash. This money went towards things like gas for the generator, vehicle and things to start making the house a home. They lost so much when they made such a big move and realized their dream was actually a nightmare. I was saddened and would watch this lady work on the doll house each evening before she would give me a ride home. I finally decided to ask if I could do something for the family also, because me being 17 years old with a pack rat mother I still had toys from when I was 5 years old. Including that very first Barbie doll my grandmother gave me for Christmas.
I got together all of the boy related toys such as Cars and stuff like that I had packed up. I went through my big box of Barbie dolls and Barbie clothes. I fixed up dolls I had since the early 80s and some I had since the early 90s. I fixed up baby dolls I had all of my childhood and stuffed animals. Keyboards with new batteries (which I paid for out of my paycheck), a small black and white tv (so they could watch the weather and what not w/ the generator), Jackets, Clothes. I had so much stuff together and in bags ready to go. I even stayed up all night baking Christmas cookies. I went Christmas Eve night before the family came to their friends for dinner and left my used goodies for the kids. None were wrapped, but they were set out nicely. Same as what you would see done by Santa himself. I felt a little sad that I myself couldnt afford to buy lots of new things for this family or give them the money they needed to have a proper home, but at least they would know that even a stranger cared and there are still warm hearts out there.
When I went to leave the lady (the friend of the family they were helping) begged me to take my Barbies back and save them due to the fact of how old they were and that they were in such good condition. I told her no I wanted a little girl to enjoy them as much as I had. I picked up the one my grandmother had given me and explained to her how special that one particular one was to me and why. I told her my grandmother gave it to me to make me happy and smile and now I wanted to pass that happiness the doll brought me down to another special little girl. I explained that my dolls were not going to make me happy unless I know they were putting smiles on someone elses face instead of sitting in a box collecting dust. My grandmother always taught me that in the end our material objects dont go with us and everything decays if it is not loved and is forgotten.
I went back home that evening and the lady who took me to drop my stuff off with her doll house told my mom proud she should be of how I turned out. She told my mom and her room mate about what I had told the lady about my Barbies. We went home and my mom told my step dad about it also. My step dad had offered for this family to have our fully cooked Christmas dinner and said we could always get something else to have for our Dinner. This is the type of people I had around me helping me grow and learn all my life. The following day when the ladies who I worked for came over to have Christmas dinner with us they said they heard from the people about the family. This family excepted everything I brought for them, but they would not take the new gifts everyone else had gotten for them and their children including the doll house. They said the used gifts meant more to them and did not seem like charity to them, because it was not money out of someones pocket to provide for them. They cried and smiled over my gifts and were happy to see that not just another human being had a heart, but that they came from someone who wasnt even an adult yet. It made them feel like there is hope out there for them to get to where they needed to be just because of a simple kind gesture from a child.
To this day I try to instill the same values into my children. It is hard at times, because of outside influences. My kids are some of the kindest kids you can ever meet though. They will help each other and someone else in a heart beat without asking too many questions (unless it is me and deals with chores). My children know the meaning of Christmas and even when we have been down, whatever we have gotten help wise for holidays we have used to make at least one child smile as well. Last year it was a simple $20 on Dollar Tree Christmas gifts to my brother in laws boys and a few board games. Even if it is small it can still bring a lot of love and joy to someones heart. So while you guys are shopping this holiday season and maxing out your credit cards just remember not everyone has this luxury. Donate a few unwrapped toys to the local Toys for Tots. Find out who a local family is that may need a little help and be a Secret Santa. I know last year when we were down to rock bottom the simplest things made us realize even the impossible was possible. You just have to believe. That is what the Holiday season is all about to make everyone remember it is all about believing.