I was waiting in line at the Daily Bagel waiting to make daily $8 purchase of a cup of oatmeal and a fruit cup, and out of the corner of my eye I spy a 'lets give a gift to the foster kid' tree. ' Now it’s officially Christmas. It's like seeing my first robin in spring. It really brings a tear to my eye…and bile to my throat. Now that I'm living the post group-home dream (security, a healthy long term romantic relationship, modest but steady income, solid relationships with friends and select family members) I try to pay it forward.
So I open one of the gift-cards attached to the branches of the tree.
'Boy 11 yrs 3 Playstation games.'
Must be a mistake right?
I select another
'Girl 16 yrs $100 gift certificate Abromrombie and Fitch.
Not TJ Maxx or some outlet store but Abrocrombie and frickin’ Fitch.
Those lucky bastards!
In my day-- that's right whippersnappers, in MY day-- because DCF in the 90's apparently was a whole different ballgame-- we had a $30 limit on 3 presents which we chose out of some no-name catalog, and the filler gifts were usually clothes and trinkets from Walgreens/Wal-Mart. Not exactly Playstation, but quality items that made for a good holiday. Then there was dreaded ‘church present' from which every Christmas and birthday we consistently got a super small sweatshirt in some god awful pastel color. One year I received a magenta sweatshirt had a picture of a smiling cat playing with a ball of string. I was 16.
Now I know Dear Reader (Dave) I should be grateful and humble blah blah blah, but frankly if you want to be looked upon favorably by the unwashed masses, take a hint from the Daily Bagel gift tree; donate something you'd want for yourself. Clothing you'd want to wear and food you'd want to eat. You don't get to shower yourself with self adulation by showering the 'needy' with kitten sweatshirts or chipped beef**
** When I left placements at 18 they gave me a hamper filled with food and household items as a good bye gift. It was a really great gift actually. It was filled with things you need for your first apt but never think to buy. Among the goods was a jar of chipped beef. Nobody eats chipped beef unless your 87 and live in the English countryside. It's like donating cranberry sauce in April. I tried to give it away...no takers. I'm not a fan of throwing perfectly good food in the trash, and I'm not a big enough jerk to re-donate it. It sat in my cabinet for 5 years until I started to get my life together(ish) I ceremoniously opened it and ate a few bites once I graduated college. So if anyone asks you what pride tastes like? Chipped beef...kinda salty.