In the first few days of December, as I contemplated the end of the year and the beginning of the next, as I took a deep breath after a whole month of blogging in some way, no matter how small, every single day, I found myself hungering for a little bit more of that connection with the outside world that has been building throughout November. I’d made new connections, discovered new blogs, dragged my butt out of the house for a write-in, all things I hadn’t done in way too long to count.
So when the call came for volunteers to help out with Rose of Athens’ 1st annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, I jumped at the chance. I hadn’t done any backstage work in years, except for a little assistance with Clarke Central High School’s production of Grease last year.
When I first conceived of the idea for this post in the hours following the last show last Friday night, I was thinking I’d be talking about politics. However, I learned of something today that has pushed my initial idea to the back burner. I’ll have to post that one another day.
For those who’ve never heard of A Christmas Carol, it essentially tells the story of a man more concerned with material things, with his comfort, ostensibly hoarding his monetary wealth, than he is with charity, even for just the one day of the year. Through an encounter with three ghosts (not counting the ghost of his old friend and business partner, Jacob Marley), he comes to realize how stark, sterile, and terribly cold his life has become. Overnight, he goes from a curmudgeony, mean (and mean-spirited) old man to one with compassion and generosity both in his heart and in his actions.
The story seems particularly à propos this year as the 99% argue with the Tea Party. That is the story I had meant to tell, the idea and concept of which I hoped to discuss with you, dear readers. Instead, the more concrete story of a friend of mine recently culminated in an incident vile enough to move me to go a different route.
Politics will have to wait.
An old friend of mine, a woman who has been like a second mother to my daughters, whose own children have been like sisters to them, and whose husband has been like a cross between an older brother and a second dad himself, has had one of the most horrible years ever.
By all accounts it could have certainly been much worse; however, there is absolutely no doubt this has been an extremely difficult, painful year for this family.
No fewer than four people died this year, one of them a nephew on his way to a good time playing with his friend. They were being driven to a popular park when their car was struck. The nephew died on the scene, the friend a few days later. They weren’t even teenagers yet.
On the other end of the spectrum, an older family member also died after a long battle with illness. Although it was almost certainly a matter of time, the passing still hurt deeply.
A family friend’s daughter died.
Someone else also passed nearer the beginning of the year, though I don’t remember who.
On top of that, a job that had been steady for more than 10 years suddenly evaporated. Because my friend’s husband was part of the maintenance crew at the apartment complex where they lived, their free housing suddenly wasn’t free anymore, and they had to fight to find a new place where he could occupy the same position, thereby continuing to live rent free. Unfortunately, the position he found didn’t allow the family to keep their pets: all had to be relocated. That is how I came to have Kratos and Skittles, the two cats, and Daisy, one of the dogs. The other, Ryoko, went out of state to live with my friend’s mother.
A death of another sort.
Interspersed throughout all of this are other things I don’t know about. All I know is the constant tension this family has been under, slowly but surely crumbly under the sheer weight of one thing after another. 2011 has simply not been good to them.
What really hurts is that these people are incredibly generous of heart and spirit. They work hard, they play hard, they love hard. We all know that bad things happen to good people all the time, but generally it tends to be one thing that may or may not go on and on. this veritable avalanche of ick is just too much to bear witness to, let alone live through.
Last night, in what I sincerely hope is the very last bit of ickiness for this year (better yet, the last for a long time to come), someone broke into both their vehicles, breaking car windows and demolishing their dashboard in order to get to the stereos.
Really? Isn’t that just… last century?
No matter. Either way, this latest disaster is terrible not in its material effect (radios, car windows, and dashboards can be replaced, after all), but in the other thing it stole as a corollary: a sense of safety and security. Not to mention the warmth it literally obliterated as well: at this time of year, even in Georgia, open windows make for an awfully cold ride.
Worse is the monetary impact. With Christmas right around the corner, the extra output of money means there is nothing left for the presents that were to sit under the tree. My friends aren’t extravagant shoppers (I doubt they had planned on much more than some clothes, maybe some makeup or a few pieces of costume jewelry rather than more expensive electronics), yet even these relatively inexpensive items will be wiped out from the equation.
I wish I could help directly. I can’t do much (I could use a little help myself this year!), but I hope I can leverage the power of the internet and the written word to mobilize YOU, faithful reader. I will not ask for cash, as I have no way of assuring you that this is going to be used correctly. Instead, I have been informed that these girls love the following brands, all of which (I think!) have gift cards:
I figure these girls LOVE to shop, so why not give them the means to do this at their favorite stores? Besides, gift cards allow them to get whatever they want, without fear they won’t like the choices. If you feel so inclined, I am accepting gifts of gift cards in their names as of right now. Please email me to find out where to send them (I will not post my address or my friend’s here, or her daughter’s names, for the whole world to see). I know times are incredibly difficult. However, I also know people can be very generous, and I would appreciate the opportunity to give back to this friend. I wish I could help you understand what she has meant to me and, more importantly, to my daughters. If you knew her, I am pretty sure you would feel the need to help, too. She is mother to all, and a friend without equal. Please help me alleviate the pain this year has brought her!
I will post next Monday on the progress made, if any. Should we get donations, I will make sure there are pictures of the girls shopping and some of the things they have purchased. Please help me remind the family that there truly is still generosity of heart in the world; help me prove this year is not all bad.