Teenagers and Angel Trees

So while I was craning my neck to gawk at celebrities the other night, my kids and hubby were doing good deeds. Putting me to shame. (Not the first time, I imagine.)

In my absence, they went out to a fast-food fish-taco dinner and then traipsed through town to purchase gifts for needy families.

A few days ago, my husband, oldest son, and middle daughter all independently chose to participate in “angel trees” this year — where you take a piece of paper off a tree (often cut out in the shape of an angel) with a request on it from a specific child about what he’d like for Christmas if he felt he could ask. Usually the requests are from children who are staying in a homeless shelter in the area.

Hubby Superman came home with an “angel request” off a tree in the lobby of the courthouse where he works; Rene took a paper from an angel tree at her junior-high-school library; and Ricky took a nudge from his girlfriend, who is coordinating the angel tree for the Spanish club at their high school. Strangely, they all did this the same day. Then that night at dinner, we poured over all the lists that came out of pockets and backpacks.

So off to shopping they went. …

(Nate, of course, wanted to participate, too – he helped by offering his expert opinion on what kids like for Christmas. Thumbs up, thumbs down. He’s a master elf.)

Ricky’s angel request was for Play-Doh, so he bought one of those tub things with all different colors. (Nate approved.)

Rene’s was more detailed. It had a name on it (“Joseph”), and an age (5 years old), along with clothing sizes. His request was for a remote-control truck and/or a pair of sweats.

Rene said that when she chose him, she carefully stared at each request on the tree before making her selection. I could picture her in the library, standing there with her books pressed to her chest, reading each “angel” paper on the tree — each a child who might not get to experience Christmas in the way she and her friends mostly know. I imagine her reading every single one, trying to imagine their lives, the only sound being the school heater kicking on. She said the library ladies were watching her.

When she finally plucked an angel request off the tree, the library ladies came bustling over. “Who did you pick?” they whispered.


“Oooooh! Joseph!” The library ladies looked at each other and smiled. They were happy about that. Rene said they had seemed to memorize all the kids on the tree.

Rene was thrilled, then, when they all went shopping and she and Nate found the perfect remote-control vehicle for Joseph — and it was a truck! In fire red. Just like he asked. And it was huge, which is better for a 5-year-old’s hands than a small truck. They brought it home, but then Superman realized they forgot the batteries, so we’ll get those this weekend and add them to the top of the box.

“What about the sweats?” I asked when I re-read the request last night.

“I’m thinking that a little boy would really rather have the toy,” Rene said. And she’s right.

But I have to say, my heart kind of ached when I read “sweats” on Rene’s list. As a mom, I know how heartwrenching it would be to think your children are spending the evening in a cold room. For some reason, my heart kind of squished up when I read that. So when we get the batteries, I think I have to get the sweats, too, for Joseph.

As we were coordinating all this, Rene asked if she could pick one more, so I told her she could. I can picture her telling the library ladies about the remote-control truck for Joseph, and picture all of them pouring over the angel requests to see who else Rene can select. I’m so happy that Rene loves to do this. I’m so happy it makes her happy.

Do you have “angel trees” in your community?

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2 thoughts on “Teenagers and Angel Trees

  1. I will be getting my kid a remote control truck and/or skateboard because what little boy doesn’t want that???
    I think sweats were a part of my guy’s suggestions too…uh, honey maybe you said make that 2 extra pairs of sweats…

  2. Pingback: Wriggling Out From Holiday Consumerism

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