No -- no startling new revelations here.
I'm talking about my Angel Tree kid.
Our local DHS office puts up two Angel Trees at two different businesses in town. Each tree is covered with the gift requests of needy children in our county. Back in more flush times you'd also find requests from older teens and adults; in the last couple of years, because of our tanking local economy, and because shoppers are less likely to buy gifts for other adults, you just see the kids' requests. And the wish lists have changed too; a lot fewer items, as if the children were coached by their caseworker to keep their requests modest.
One Angel Tree contains tags with just a number, an age and a wish; you purchase the items the kid wants and take them to the service desk. The other Angel Tree includes the kids' first names on the tags, and asks that the presents be wrapped.
So, anyhow, I randomly pulled off a tag on the second tree, the more personalized tree, and found that I had picked a six-year-old girl with a lovely, unusual name that I will not use here; I'll call her Leila instead. And the first thing, the most important thing, that I noticed about Leila was that she had no special request for a Christmas present. Someone had noted that she needed some clothes; you know a six-year-old didn't request those. But no wishes for the Hot Toy Du Jour or toys or books or the other things that kids tend to want. Nothing. Nada.
It could be that Leila is disabled in some way and lives in a twilight world without wishes other than basic human comforts. But it could also be that Leila is simply a sad little girl with no expectations at Christmastime. And frankly I don't know which alternative breaks my heart more.
When I was six, I spent much of November compiling long, detailed wish lists from Sears, Penney's and Monkey Ward, the old trinity of Christmas catalogs. Not that I always got what I wanted, mind you -- the primary object of my holiday desire from toddlerhood to puberty, which was never fulfilled, was a science kit with a microscope; a topic that is still a somewhat sensitive one around the LutheranChik household -- but I always got something; and I always got enough to fuel my hopes for another year.
What do you buy a little kid who can't imagine getting a Christmas present?