Shopping the mornings after the holiday, the rummage sale after the holiday. I had seen the long lines outside the Toys “R” Us and Sears on Black Friday, many of which felt like a midnight stampede. There’s something unsettling about “giving to charity” in the aftermath of an event that has become rife with tragedy and theft and a resource crunch.
This year, I donated to New York Cares and Child Haven, two organizations in need of funds after the holiday season. That was a nice show of support, but I’m not an expectant parent (nor am I, most of the time, fussy or scared). I don’t worry that the next thing I may need will not be on my shopping list. So, when I received a call from Child Haven informing me that they were filling a donation box with blankets and love and thoughts, it felt more natural than it perhaps should have.
I have since forgotten the phone calls. My view of the package now is a picture of its description, a collection of folded fabrics in white. It looks to be a giant stack, and it contains something more than just tote bags and toiletries for someone.
There were other unsolicited Christmas gifts with the Child Haven package, too: books, reading materials. A pile of blankets covered in fancy textiles. Two open boxes with presents waiting inside.
I don’t know when I began rewiring myself to feel more connected with my calls back home. After the twelfth Christmas, the phone calls have stopped coming in, but I check my voicemail daily. Any second, I could hear my mother’s voice, or my mom’s voice, or my brother’s voice. Maybe my phone call is only an interruption, but if it doesn’t stop, I start to remember where I came from and to think of the help that’s sometimes turned away because we can’t afford to give.
I remember asking my mother when we were kids how old we are now. I’m twelve, I told her. About a week later, I fell ill. My mother was happy to hear I was fine.
But eight years later, I’m here, still waiting.