Before the holidays, I had the pleasure of spending two days working at CAP's Christmas Basket distributions. One day in Jackson County and the other in Rockcastle County. I enjoyed both days as a chance to serve with my housemates, which I rarely get to do because we serve in different programs within CAP. I also enjoyed the chance to participate in this idyllic Christmas activity of giving gifts away to strangers.
When I was a kid, my family would sometimes take a name of a kid from the tree at church and buy Christmas gifts for them. I loved shopping for the gifts. I loved imagining the kids’ faces when they saw their gifts. We would buy their gifts (mostly Crayola crafts and Barbies) and bring them home to be wrapped.
This Christmas I got to see the other half of the process. I got to see all these kids’ parents pick up their gifts. At the pick-up sites, we set up “free-tables” where families could pick a few items (like hats and toy cars) to take home in addition to their gifts. When the parents came in they would check in and we would go fetch the gifts for their family. They would then be directed to the “free-table” to make any selections they wanted, and after that, we would carry their gifts out to their car for them. I would stand by with people’s gifts watching them pull out all sorts of hats. I would imagine what their kids would look like with those hats on and how warm they would be the rest of this winter.
Not everyone who picked up gifts made selections from the “free-table.” One lady, when I directed her to the table, looked at me and said, “No thanks, I am really just grateful for this,” (indicating her child’s gift), “I don’t need anything else.” She refused to go over to the table--this one box really was enough. I followed her out to her car, and wished her a Merry Christmas. She tearfully thanked me again and wished me a Merry Christmas as well. I hugged her and she left. I was overcome by the fact that I got to be the lucky one to meet this humble woman. That moment was all the Christmas I needed this year.
Anna P. is a long-term CAP Volunteer serving as an AmeriCorps Camp Educator/Summer Camp Counselor at Camp Andrew Jackson. She is a member of the Jackson Volunteer Community and is a graduate of Bellarmine University.