Years ago when my partner and I were deciding whether or not to have kids, we made two lists. The first was a “cons” list. On that list were all the pragmatic reasons why it would be difficult. I was in my forties — too old? There were college savings, education concerns. We would have four mouths to feed.
Then we decided to make the “pros” list. My partner started out, “The looks on our children’s faces on Christmas morning.” The next sound was me ripping up the “cons” list. He closed the deal.
As my sons have grown, and are both now 12-year olds, it is no longer their looks of joy of which I am proud. It is their enthusiasm over what they are excited to give to others. They have been sneaky, and a tad dishonest lately, but it has all been to slyly to slip into stores to spend their own allowance money on our different family members.
Recently, I met a family who has taken this spirit to a whole new level. Steve and his partner live in the midwest. They count as their family members Steve’s two grown daughters, one daughter’s husband, and his 13-year old son.
Steve has always believed in giving to others. Throughout his previous 15-year marriage, he was often a foster-dad, and gave home at different times to over 100 different children.
This year he broached a philanthropic idea to his family: “Let’s be a substitute Santa for a homeless family in need.”
His son loved the idea, and his daughters were soon enthusiastically on board.
Younger daughter “L” told me, “Donating my Christmas gifts was an easy decision this year. Growing up as a Christian, the story of the Good Samaritan was told many times. I try to follow this example and serve those I can, not only during the Christmas season but throughout the year. Several Christmas’ ago, our family was in need of some help during the Christmas season and some kind neighbors were able to help us out, so when it was suggested to help someone else in need it was an easy decision to return the favor.”
The family began examining their budget and how much could be done. It was determined that they could reasonably put together big packages for two families. That was not enough for Steve’s kids.
How could they reach more people, they asked dads Steve and his partner “T.” Steve speculated out loud, “The only way we could do more is if we pool ALL our Christmas gift money for each other, and do this instead.” The consensus from the entire family was a resounding “Let’s do it!”
More family members came on board, specifically former foster children of Steve’s, and contributed. The targets of the gifts changed as they dug into local needs further.
Steve found out about a program sponsored by the local Pride organization and two churches that fed homeless youth, mostly LGBT. The majority of the teens had been thrown out of their homes for coming out to their families. They were now not welcomed home.
This was consistent with homeless teen populations nationwide.