We had just bought a new home after living in a rental for a long time. We were just a few months from celebrating the year mark of the San Fernando earthquake and finally were getting our children to sleep back in their own bedrooms again. The move became a symbol of a fresh beginning of safety and new happy memories to come. We had the new home owner’s excitement and felt we finally found our ”place” we could raise our family in Simi Valley. We had christened the home by having a new baby two weeks prior to moving in. We were getting to know our neighbors and our children were meeting new friends and getting used to new schools even though we only moved across town. Our home had a brand new play room that any age child could “hang out” in and make their childhood messes, but our tween-age daughter would always go to her new friend’s house instead.
The homes surrounding the development were older and a bit more humble and most of the families were people working hard to make ends meet. We would often keep inviting our daughter to bring her new friends home to our new house but they would rarely come, and if they did they would never stay more than a few minutes; especially when our Dad was home. I wished they would feel welcome but they never chose to. The friends were sisters whose mother was the prime bread winner for their grandparents and the two girls. The grandparents knew little English. We found out later that their father had been abusive and was nowhere to be found.
Closer to Christmas my daughter got in the car very concerned. One of the daughters had privately heard a conversation between her mother and grandparents. They had only $20 in their bank account. This girl shared this information with my daughter.
My daughter is a crusader. She always has been. If there is a good cause to stand for, she zestfully will take a stand! (Once she stole a puppy, because the owner hit it in front of us…that is a whole other story…) I could see the crusader fire glowing in her eyes.
“MOM! We have to do something.”
I am familiar with those words from this child. I have heard them before. Once that passion begins to flow it is like holding rushing water in your hands. But often child innocence does not quite understand adult protocol and proper boundaries; like the puppy! I knew this family was very proud and would be embarrassed if we showed up with a box of gifts, food, and money. And we had just purchased a house so our own Christmas was going to be slim.
“MAH-M! We have to give them some money for Christmas!”
Even though it was difficult for her to wait, we decided the best person to discuss this dilemma with would be our daddy since he is very wise; especially when it comes to money issues. But he did not get home until after 7:30. So she had to wait…and waiting is not what crusaders do.
So, she did what she always does.
She did not wait!
She grabbed her most loyal devotees; her two little brothers, at the time (eventually she got four) and rallied them to her cause. They came running with their shoe boxes and piggy banks and dumped money and tickets out on her bed. (She had established personal services through ticket exchanges with her siblings so along with the coins were those earned tickets they could redeem for small prizes, gum and candy) She dumped out her own stash of cash from past lemonade stands, car washes, and the scrimpy allowance we gave for emptying the dishwasher and taking out the trash. Besides a crusader, she is extremely thrifty. The children were pleasantly surprised that it all amounted to $33.61; a small fortune for them. All three stared at the pile of money. Then the little boys quickly stuffed their earned tickets back into their savings accounts before their sister decided they needed to redeem them now too.
“Now how should we get this money to them?” She said out loud to her brothers. The little army discussed different stealthy secret Santa moves. I could hear giggling from her bedroom while nursing the baby. Waiting was difficult now that the solution was found.
Later, Daddy came home. The problem assessed. Daddy offered to match the amount the children came up with to make the sum total of a whopping $67.22!” That felt like a small fortune to the children. They were thrilled. Then as a family we discussed the best way to give it to the family and decided that they would not accept it if we just handed them an envelope so we decided to go through our church minister.
We never heard about what happened after we gave the money to our minister to distribute. We only knew that it had been done.
Even though the piggy banks were dry, Christmas was different.
It felt so good being settled in our new home we loved so much.
But it was definitely more…
Thank God for crusaders for good…
especially when they are your own children!