Thursday, December 24, 2009

Angel Memory

She was not the last, but I remember her best – my first angel off a Salvation Army angel tree. I was working temporary at Alabama Power as the century wound down. I didn’t have a lot of money. Back then, I limited myself to $25 per sibling and/or sibling family and Mom; and $100 for my daughter who’s lived in a group home since she was 17.

When the tree went up in the lobby, I thought long but not so hard. I plucked that little white cutout angel with the name Brianna, age five on one side and her wish list with sizes on the other from the tree.

I sent a note along with my Christmas cards that year telling the family of my decision. I explained that as we are all grown, there’s nothing I could buy them that they don’t already have or that they couldn't’t buy for themselves. With the exception of my daughter, they all would get a large tin of my special recipe healthy oatmeal cookies that they love.

I took my extra $125 shopping for my angel. I hadn’t had so much fun shopping at Christmas since my daughter was young. She was 30 then.

I bought the necessaries first - the requested undies and socks, and found the one learning toy requested and added a doll just because. Then I looked for the perfect outfit. I already had the high-top suede boots with a pink rose on the ankles, to go with the tiny pink-rose-strewn black cords and top, when I saw those Dorothy red shoes. I had to have them for my angel, and never mind the budget. If they had had my size, I’d have bought a pair for me, too. They were shiny ruby red patent Mary Janes – “…Oh my…”

My camera was broken, so I have no pictures of all the tiny treasures I wrapped the next morning at work. I put them all in a large Parisian’s shopping bag with a ribbon and Briana’s name attached. I was not alone in my giving. Working on the 18th floor that year, I watched as RH and other executives and their assistants went shopping for all the unclaimed angels on the tree and brought in bicycles, tricycles, dolls and more to make sure every angel on our tree had something under their tree that year.

Smiles and laughter were everywhere amid the bustle to get all the presents wrapped and bows tied in time for the Salvation Army pick-up day. People cheerfully came in early, skipped lunches, stayed late, and dug deeper into not-so-deep pockets to get it done along with all their regular work.

It is not the things we give that matter; they are transient. Deepak Chopra said, “…and in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the universe circulating in our lives.” I hope that my Christmas angel, wherever she is today, has as fond a memory of that Christmas as I do, and the abundance of the universe circulating in her life as it is in mine.

©Perle Champion

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Material Girl Moment

Santa Baby, All I want for Christmas are:
a red leather bag
a red silk nightgown
a red silk camisole
anything silk
anything with 4-wheel drive
crocodile pumps
crocodile loafers
anything crocodile
another pair of loop earrings
black cowboy boots
a big, black velvet rose
a sleeveless little black velvet dress
black high tops
a black leather mini
anything black, really anything
a small convertible
a white cotton slip
a white denim jacket
a white denim skirt with a slit
anything denim – white denim
a treadmill
a spa membership
yoga classes
a personal trainer
lots of books
gift card for lots of books
a diamond ring for my right hand
a magnum of champagne
a diamond ring for any hand
real pearls
real black pearls
a dozen gold chains
a retro watch
an antique jewelry box
antique jewelry
anything antique
anything suede
a cameo or two or six
ballroom dancing lessons
a country house
a country house at the beach
any house at any beach
a maid
not just any kind
a long red skirt
a long red coat
anything red
claret red
a good camera
all new makeup
a makeover
another cat
another black cat
red hair
long red hair
lots of snow
a blizzard of snow... “