We are really having a lot of fun getting ready for Christmas. We are going a little wild on the presents, because we can, because it is so much fun to be in the Lego store and picture Abel’s face opening up something he’s not even dreaming about because he doesn’t think we’ll be able to get it for him, and it’s so much fun to be at Art Media and find the absolutely perfect thing for Ilsa, even though we had already found the absolutely perfect thing for her already at Powells. Plus, with grandparents and aunts not having to worry about international postage, they’re getting thoroughly spoiled this year. And we love it.
My last post talked about not forgetting the suffering of others. But I didn’t by any stretch want to imply that might mean we shouldn’t enjoy ourselves, or that there’s anything wrong with the joy of showing our love by giving, or even by receiving. Which reminds me of the twins, blonde heads together, borrowing all my cash to buy me a present at the other end of the store from me the other day.
“Mom, can I borrow your credit card, just for a minute?” Abel asked me.
“Uh, no.”
The twins together are like a very old couple who’ve been married, been together, forever; the way they constantly bicker but without rancor, constantly disagree. They’ve always done this, and it’s always been really funny. This was no exception. They argued over whether or not to split the purchase evenly, they argued and over-explained themselves to the cashier (who I believe was highly amused; I caught her looking after them), they stood at the front of a long queue of shoppers and said, “No thanks; we’ve already paid,” every time another cashier said, “I can help whoever’s next.” So although I suspect I’m going to be overwhelmed by the brightness of the jewelry they bought me, there is no way I’m not going to treasure it, and not because I’m sentimental–because they are showing me their love by spending their hard-earned money on me.
How do we deal with the needs around us? I don’t have any easy answers, especially as I believe it is different for each person. That’s why I told you about the Talibe boys; how hard it was to be able to help them, how I never really did come up with any way except the occasional open carton of milk or handful of tiny tangerines. I don’t know how to deal with extreme poverty; it overwhelms me. But I believe it is good for me to live in a place where I am constantly reminded of my own wealth; where I have to be in that uncomfortable place all the time, dealing with that tension. It’s a good antidote to the shallowness that can afflict us when our main concern is the pretty things at the mall.
It starts with awareness, and with gratitude. When we are aware of how privileged we are, then we are prepping ourselves to be able to respond to needs. If our focus is only on what we don’t have, then we are less likely to be able to see others who are hurting, whether they be kids in an Indian sweatshop making clothes for Gap, or the family down the street who have everything and don’t see how empty it ultimately is.

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