Friday, December 24, 2010

This Christmas Brought To You By A Family in Pennsylvania, A Family in Houston, and The Bloggess

Did you hear about this?  I have followed The Bloggess off and on for a couple of years.  She has a rather twisted sense of humor, and a skewed view of the use of social media and the internet to connect with people.  Sometimes I love her, and then she'll do something that I think totally crosses a line.  (For some people, that was the Santa interview.)  But I always come back for more.

Meanwhile, in my real life, I'm struggling with single mom finances and depression.  (The assessment I took on the internet - which should be totally accurate, right? - said moderately severe depression.  Great.)

If you've been around the internet recently, you've heard the story.  She offered 20 $30 Amazon gift cards.  They went quick.  Others started offering to help the 21st or 22nd person.  It snowballed, and TB (The Bloggess.  I feel like we're tight now, so I can nickname her.  I don't know her well enough to call her Jenny, so I have to have something) ended up matching up hundreds of donors and recipients in a modern day Christmas miracle.  Over $42,000 in small increments, like $30, $50, or $100 at a time.

I watched it unfold in her comments and her updates.  Then she wrote another post requesting people comment if they need help or if they want to help.  So I'm reading all this and I'm thinking "do I want to write her?", no I'm like "that's for people who really need it" then I sit and do bills and think "if I don't pay my water bill until Jan 30th, do you think they'll shut it off?" and then I realized I'm , like, one of *those people* who doesn't pay their bills so they can buy Christmas.

So when she tweeted yet again that she had more donors than people who had requested gift cards, I wrote her an email about my water bill dilemma.

Her post talked about $30 gift cards. I was thinking ... $30 gift card.

I get an email from an incredibly nice man, whose family lives in Pennsylvania.  He wants to give me $100, and asks me what kind of gift card I would like.

At this point I'm retching with shame and guilt, but I write him back and tell him that Amazon will be fine, that I want to get C a play kitchen set and some books.

He shops and sees that some of the kitchen sets are $100 or more (the one I was going to get her was a reasonable $75 with shipping, but okay) so he buys us a gift card for $200 so I can get her a kitchen set and some books. I had enough to get her a Dora backpack with games and something for my mom and dad too.

A complete stranger. Gives me $200. I think I totally have to teach my kid about Santa now.

Oh, wait, the story doesn't end there.  Not by a long shot.

I get another email from a woman matched to help me.  She lives in Texas and makes hair bows and wants to help us so she bought us a $50 Target gift card.  And, of course, is making us some hair bows.  Last year her husband lost his job and they lost their home.  They had help to make it through.  And now she wants to pay it forward. 

I'm still reeling. I still feel sick with guilt and shame, but I've convinced myself that I'm totally paying it forward next year and buying some complete stranger four gift cards for Christmas next year.

So, my daughter is about to have the most awesomest Christmas in the entire universe. And I have stuff for my mom and dad. Which means I think I might actually be able to pay the bills.   So I feel alot better. If I didn't feel like I don't deserve this and ashamed because I needed it.

In her answer to my original email, The Bloggess thanked me for sharing my story and told me that people were happy to be able to help and give.  In one of her updates she wrote

...There were even some who admitted later that they were considering suicide until this gave them hope.  Some of those people considering suicide?  Were the donors.  Some felt isolated and depressed in the holiday season and being able to have someone somewhere count on them made them feel connected and less alone.
 A close friend reminded me that as difficult as it is to ask for help, that it allows other people to experience the joy of helping, and giving, when you ask.

The kitchen is put together.  I'm getting ready to unpack the pots and pans, and play food, and have it all ready for her in the morning.  I can't wait.  I found my Christmas spirit, just in time.  Thank you to the families that helped make this Christmas possible.  Thank you to Jenny, The Bloggess for unknowingly becoming the matchmaker of the Christmas Miracle for hundreds of families.

More photos to come in the morning.


Jenny, the Bloggess said...

Giving frees the soul and I'm so glad you asked for help.

When I was in college I was given $500 because I was struggling. Every since then I've given $500 to every few years to college students who needs it. I always tell them that in the next ten years they should pass it on to someone else who'll one day need it. It's a wonderful tradition and it starts with being able to admit that you need help. No shame in that.

Thank you so much for sharing and becoming part of the chain.

Funky Mama Bird said...

This just made me cry. I'm so glad you were able to ask for help and that you got what you needed to make this a wonderful Christmas for your daughter (and for you!)

Merry Christmas V! You are totally one of my favorite online people. =)

FruitFish said...

What an awesome and inspiring post!!!
Thank you for sharing :)