Today, for the second year in a row, I volunteered at the elementary school during the Gingerbread House Making Extravaganza. Last year I helped 30 kindergartners use frosting as glue to build gingerbread houses out of graham crackers, them trick them out with candy decorations. I came home with frosting in my hair, frosting beneath my fingernails, and frosting on my shirt. I drank for two days straight afterward.
This year, I helped 24 1st graders do the same. I came home with frosting in my hair, frosting beneath my fingernails, and frosting on my shirt. I am currently drinking. (As a side note, my Mom arrived a lunchtime, which is in fact reason enough on its own to drink. Considering the circumstances, you, my readers, are lucky I'm still functional enough to use the laptop.) At least this year I had the foresight to wear a white shirt so the vanilla frosting wasn't quite as visible whenever some kid bumped into me with an icing-coated hand or spoon or gingerbread house.
Why do I keep submitting myself to this torture, you ask? Well, the look on Belly's face when she sees me helping out at school is rather priceless, regardless of how much I often loathe being a mother. Some of these kids don't seem to have anyone to recognize their awesomeness, so I feel it is my duty to not only point it out, but to celebrate it (as in, "Yes, James, I think it's a fabulous idea to construct a fence out of Twizzlers! Way to be a GENIUS!"). I'm not a chipper, super peppy Mommy, but dude, I can tell when a kid needs a boost, and I'll be damned if I'm not going to help he or she get it. Kids may not be my forte, but I don't like to see them in need.
We live in a community that is so economically diverse that the range covers all kinds, types, races, and incomes. My kids fall somewhere in the middle, and I feel very lucky to be able to give them all that we are able. But it breaks my heart to think of those children who aren't so lucky--the ones whose parents don't care enough to give them the Christmas they deserve. Hell, I may be the antithesis of Christmas joy this year, but I will not deny my kids the best parts of it all-- watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," baking cookies for neighbors, saying their prayers every night to thank God that we are as blessed as we are, taking them to church for the candlelight service. These are the things that bring them the happiness, and hopefully, the memories they will carry. I only hope that they ingest that THESE are the important parts, not the presents or wrappings or bows.
If I could trade myself, just to give one happy Christmas to every soul on earth, I would do it in a heartbeat. The universe could have me, no questions asked. I only wish I had that kind of worth.