Half an hour from now, I'll be dropping off a present for some kid I've never met, hoping I'm not too late. It's for an Angel Tree program at St. Michael's, and the deadline was yesterday. If the person doing all the work doesn't pick up all the last day dropoffs until this morning, maybe I can sneak it in. If not, then I'll probably call and ask to deliver it to the person.
The reason I missed the deadline was that I mislaid the Angel Tree paper ornament with the kid's name (Frank) for several hours, but really I was running behind on things all day yesterday. I never did get back to bed after blogging. Instead I ended up fussing with the ComicMaker application on the BBC Doctor Who web site (you can see the result here), catching up on online stuff, registering for an online orientation Friday for the CPA review course I finally bought, being upset and angry with a form letter from an HR department that said I do not "meet the minimum requirements" for the position of "Accountant," based on my application listing past jobs as, guess what, an accountant, and activating my replacement debit card, which contrary to printed instructions could not be done simply by entering my PIN at an ATM.
And I mailed Jacob's package. God bless the self serve station in the Cherrybell post office lobby. Really. It probably saved me 45 minutes in line. Off it went, the box with two proper presents, a couple of silly little mathoms (ooh, a bookmark!) and a copy of my ComicMaker story.
Jacob is my godson. I last saw him nearly three years ago, on the occasion of his First Communion in the Roman Catholic Church. He lives in New Mexico. Every year I try to figure out how old he is now, and what's likely to go over well as a present. This year it ended up being leftovers, because last year I didn't get the physical gift mailed and resorted to Amazon. But that was supplemented with an autographed photo from Gallifrey One. I don't honestly know whether he'll like any of it, but I tried. It's hard to keep tabs on the changing likes and dislikes of a kid 400 miles away, when your only contact with him is a gift card and a handful of annual photos.
It's easier to buy presents for the other kids I never see, the truly invisible kids on the Angel Trees, and the receipients of Toys for Tots. Someone decided that Frank wants a bookstore gift card, and that's what he's getting. And last night, John and I made our annual Toys for Tots run.
John and I have been buying a selection of toys for the Toys for Tots campaign (and once, when we couldn't find a dropoff, for a different but similar campaign) for over twenty years, in good times and bad. It is pretty much the only Christmas activity we really enjoy together. It's fun to shop for generic kids, trying to guess what will go over well. Do poor kids have access to the Disney Channel shows? Will the kid like a tanned, blonde Barbie, or prefer a Bratz before they're taken off the market? Some of our choices are nostalgic on our part, and may not reflect current kiddom. Is the 64-crayon box of Crayolas with the built-in sharpener still desirable 45 years later? What about a Slinky? This year we got the Crayolas and skipped the Slinky and the Hannah Montana stuff, bought our traditional five Hot Wheels cards, the blonde Barbie instead of the Bratz, an Indiana Jones figure, a package of plastic dinosaurs, and I forget what else. And this year I had the sense to search online for a list of Tucson dropoff sites. They don't have them at Target or Toys R Us any more (we did our shopping at Target, for several reasons involving crowds and coolness), but LA Fitness up the street does have a box. They told me that it's been emptied and refilled more than once this year, and was overflowing when I got there last night. A local newspaper story said that this has been about the worst year ever for Toys for Tots donations, but I'm hoping that like us, some people are just slow off the mark, but will get there in the end, with toys for all those kids that for us will always remain faceless. Because really, they have faces and names, even if we never learn who they are, or who will get the Barbie and who the Indiana Jones. They're kids, and they deserve a Christmas too.