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Christmas is about giving, not getting

By Tammy Keith

This article was published December 10, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.

I haven’t been feeling very merry this Christmas, but I think I’ve figured out what’s wrong.

I’ve been stressed trying to work full time and shop every spare minute I have, running to stores on my lunch hour and on the weekends. I’m online early in the morning and late at night. The UPS truck has been to my house more than any of my relatives.

I have long email threads with family members sharing wish lists and figuring out who’s getting what for whom.

What I realized is, I haven’t gotten a present for someone who needs it more than we do.

One of my traditions at Christmas is to buy a gift for a child through The Salvation Army Angel Tree Project.

When my now-grown sons were little, I’d sometimes take them with me to pick out a toy for a child. I usually got a girl angel, though, since it was my one chance a year to buy a doll.

Last year, I picked the name of a child off the Angel Bear Tree at the University of Central Arkansas. Plenty of employees there qualify for help, in case you didn’t know. I bought a little boy some brightly colored tennis shoes and a light-up football. I accidentally found out that his mom is a single mother, and I’m happy that I could help her in a small way.

Sometimes people criticize the Angel Tree kids who want video games or expensive items, but they’re just normal kids, so of course they want the popular toys and dream of getting what their parents can’t afford. I remember going back to school and everyone asking each other, “What did you get for Christmas?”

Of course, it also pulls at my heartstrings when I see socks, shoes or a coat on the list.

I can’t stand the thought of a kid being cold or hungry, and I’m thankful that no one in my family has to worry about that. My little granddaughter has more clothes than she can ever wear, and she never goes hungry for more than a couple of minutes before she gets her little tummy full.

The Salvation Army Conway Corps did something different this year on its Angel Trees, Capt. Trish Knott told me. In addition to the names of more than 400 children, which include “a big batch of foster children who haven’t been placed in homes,” she said, the trees have lists of Christmas food-box items for families.

My mother usually buys a present for a child at the homeless shelter, and my dad loves to buy for a kid at Christmas, too, and he sent me money this year to help.

As of Thursday, there were still angels on the trees, but we don’t have much time. The gifts are due Monday at The Salvation Army office in Conway.

I just paused while writing this to run to one of the stores that has an Angel Tree. I picked out a 5-year-old girl, and she wants a baby doll and a bike and needs a winter coat, hat, gloves and boots.

As I left, I talked with The Salvation Army Red Kettle bell-ringer at the door. The young woman said her son was one of the angels and thanked me for taking one. I told her I picked a little girl.

“That’s awesome! I know you’ll get her something wonderful, and she’ll be so happy!” the woman said.

Now it feels like Christmas.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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