When I talk about my childhood I leave six years out of the loop. It is incredibly rare for me to address those years, to think about them even.
There is a good chunk of the time I am able to completely forget they happened.
But today, oh today, I made the mistake of looking at Officer Norman’s Instagram account. They had their Season of Giving event. It is where the police department, businesses and people from the community come together to give to people who don’t have a lot. Materialistically speaking.
I fully admit it took me a while to stop crying, from the touching videos of excited children, grateful parents and people who were handing out presents, watching them receive their blessings in the form of humility.
It is humbling to witness that type of poverty up close, the majority of us are so insulated from that severity of poverty.
Part of me wishes I could say I’ve never experienced it, but that would be a lie. From the time I was 5 until I was 12 I lived in a neighborhood very much like the one in North Little Rock.
I lived in Oklahoma City, in one of the poorest areas of the city, I went to Wheeler Elementary School. I have incredibly fond memories of my teachers and the principle of the school.
The memory that sticks with me the most, that impacted my life the most was the Christmas I was in the 2nd grade.
It sticks out because we had a Christmas program and the firemen came. They had their trucks, they pulled their ladders out and they even had one of the trucks that had the basket on it. That is what Santa came to our school in. It was so exciting and amazing, they brought presents for all of us in the school and Santa gave each one of us a candy cane.
It sticks out so much because that year, the only Christmas present I got was the one the firemen brought to our school.
When I watched the videos of the excited children and grateful parents that Christmas came rushing back.
It has impacted the way I have treated Christmas for my children all of their lives. I want them to have amazing Christmases with presents galore, even at this stage of their lives.
I want them to feel that they matter, that someone loves them, that they are the most important person to someone.
I am incredibly blessed that I was adopted by my parents and taken to Owasso later on. But I’ll always remember that Christmas, the one that if it hadn’t been for people in the community I would have had nothing. I now realize, as an adult, that there were many children in that community that were like me. That was their only Christmas present.
I know what some are thinking, presents don’t make Christmas, but when you are a child it does. When you are a child that has to go without a lot of things year round, Christmas matters. A simple gift matters.
What brought it all rushing back was a specific video that Officer Norman posted. A twelve-year-old girl, Tashanti, teared up, telling Officer Norman that it was like someone cared what happens to her, to others in her neighborhood.
I am going to post it, for those of you who have never had to live in that type of poverty, this might give you some idea of what that toy you donate might do for them.
When a child feels like someone in the world cares about what happens to them it makes a world of difference in their world. It gives them hope and also gives them the strength to face the rest of the year. The rest of the year where they go without certain things their parents can’t afford.
God Bless everyone that gives to things like this, God Bless those that receive those blessings.
Here is the video that moved me so much:
The video of Tashanti is the last one in the article.