Christmas is coming and Terry and Tim both have their lists to make. Tim, being eight, has a list, not unlike many boys his age. It’s the list of items he is hoping Santa will give him the OK on and drop down his chimney, Christmas Eve. Terry, being 32, a single mom and working two part-time jobs, has a different kind of list. It’s a list made up of all the things she has to pay for in December to ensure that she, Tim and Tim’s baby sister Jennifer have a roof over their head, clothes on their backs and food in their bellies.
Tim’s list has been getting a little longer. After all, he’s made a strong effort to be a good boy this year. He’s made sure his little sister was quiet while mom took a nap between jobs and before the babysitter arrived for the night. He’s helped clean up after dinner and did his homework every night. Just like his mom asked. Terry’s list has been getting a little longer, too. Her license plate sticker is due for renewal in a few days; the cold weather has beefed up the gas bill a little higher this month, and the prescription she had to get last week has put another dent in an already depleted bank account. She’s faced with the fact the store she works at in town had cut back on hours at a time when she’d been hoping there would be a little overtime. Terry realizes that there is just no way she can buy Tim even one of the items on his Santa list, let alone all of them. Not if she wants to stay current on her financial obligations to her landlord and the other bills that arrive each month.
She looks up from her notepad budget containing numbers she’s calculated and recalculated a half dozen times in the hopes of finding a few dollars to buy her children something, anything. But the harsh reality is there is nothing left over and, frankly, barely enough to provide the necessities of life. Terry wonders how she’ll explain to her children, who both have been well behaved, that Santa passed them by this year.
She wonders where her Santa is. After all, she’s been a good girl this year herself. She’s worked hard at both her jobs while keeping an eye and ear open for better opportunities to provide for her children. She’s spent every free moment with the children, ensuring that they do their best in school so that they will hopefully never have to struggle to make ends meet as she has.
The Terry, Tim, and Jennifer in this editorial are characters of my imagination, but the harsh reality is Morinville has many stories like this, particularly in our present economy. They’re families of hard-working people who are struggling to make ends meet.
At this time of year, we all feel compelled to give to the needy, as clichéd as that may sound, but too often we envision the needy as strictly the down and out. We forget there may be those people who serve us our coffee in the morning or pump our gas at night who may be wondering just how they are going to give their child a present this Christmas.
Here are two ways. We’re sure you can find others.
The Midstream Support Society runs its Santa Store, an annual venue whereby a parent who may otherwise have no resources to buy their children a gift can select one major and one minor gift for their child. You can contact them at 780-939-3953 to learn how to help.
The Morinville Food Bank is always in great need, no less so during the Christmas season. You can reach them at 780-939-2636.