If I never get another Christmas gift in my life,
I will die a happy woman.
No gift will ever be able to compare to being here with these kids. Our kids from Santa Fe. The kids who call me Tia.
I should probably clarify that "Santa Fe" isn't in New Mexico. Our Santa Fe is a tiny little town or more like a neighborhood on the outskirts of the small city where we live.
These pictures will make my heart squeeze with a combination of happy memories and sad longing for years to come. I'm going to miss these kids so much.
The day we drove up to Santa Fe to bring Christmas gifts to "our" kids I made sure to bring along a couple extra to surprise these two neighbor children. They have been very timid with this strange family of gringos coming to visit their neighbors all the time but they watch with fascinated interest every time we roll up in our big grey car. The family that lived in this blue house 2 years ago must have moved away because the kids living here now are new to us.
I suspect a little china doll will never have been so loved.
The plastic bag that the boy is holding contains a fuzzy new fleece blanket generously provided (along with 4 others gifted elsewhere) by my cousins family. I stuffed it with some candy and a little Max Lucado booklet.
I couldn't help but contrast the sweet smelling, clean, warm blanket with the sharp ocean wind, the filthy dust that covers everything, and the sparse, flea and lice ridden blankets that exist in these homes. I hope that this clean soft blanket wrapped around a shivering little body provides a tiny little vacation from harsh reality this Christmas.
After we spent a few moments with the neighbor kids we carried 7 backpacks/ bags into "our" kids house. The same house that my husband helped to build two winters ago. They have taken such good care of the gift that they were given. It doesn't always work out that way with people. It's great to see the pride, responsibility, and ownership this family has for their home.
We followed 10 eager kids into the house where big sister Carmela (8?) put baby Gabriella down for a nap.
We began with sweet little Louisa's gift. She sat hugging her new backpack with a big grin on her face but seemed to have no clue that it was full of stuff. After some convincing she carefully and slowly examined each little treasure. The smile says it all.
Rambunctious little Ramiro opened his backpack bringing with him a whole new level of enthusiasm and excitement.
Next in line was reserved, responsible, acts too old for her age Carmela. This hard working little girl is the caretaker of three younger siblings, (soon to be 4) while her mom works long days in the fields and the oldest two go to school. I wish with every bit of my heart that this smart, eager little girl was able to go to school. If she lived in Canada she would likely be in 3rd or 4th grade by now. It crushes me that her potential is being left undiscovered and uncultivated. Without education she will work in the fields herself someday making barely enough to keep her own children alive. This little girl has had a very special place in my heart for a couple years now. She is still such an affection sponge and loves to snuggle, at the same time she seems so sad this time and has walls built up high around her. She breaks my heart. I want so badly to protect her from whatever took away the sparkle she once had in her eyes.
Kind and handsome Alvaro proudly examined each item that I had packed into his bag while I was still in Canada.
I wrote a post a while back expressing my thoughts about giving and how it doesn't always feel warm and fuzzy. Sometimes giving of ourselves hurts, it's risky and it doesn't always feel good. I also need to say that sometimes it feels amazing! I wish I could pack up their whole family and bring them home with me. They do fit right in with my goofy tribe.