Last week on social media I posted about shopping for angel tree kids at Christmas.  I mentioned in my initial bio blog that I grew up really poor.  My parents were only 17 when they married. They had me at 18.  I imagine it was really hard for them to get on their feet. They are in a very different place financially now, but there were many lean years in the beginning.

I have clearly always enjoyed a bath!

Momma always told me that we once lived in a 2 room (kitchen and living room only) house that did not have indoor plumbing…I was born in 1979. I mean, I know to some of you younger folks 1979 sounds like the olden days, but I assure you, indoor plumbing was very much normal back then. That’s some crazy shit, y’all.

My sister (and only sibling) was born two years later, and at

My little sister, Jessy, and me from a few years ago.

some point we got a trailer and moved into Jenkin’s  trailer park in Helena, Alabama.  My dad got a job as a mechanic at a waste management company.  He kept the garbage trucks in good running order.  The men that rode on the garbage trucks would often pull toys out of the trash and bring them back to my dad to give to us. Many of our Christmas gifts were items other people threw away that daddy fixed up to look new.

is this your card?

I remember daddy bringing home a pack of magic cards from work one day.  They were found in someone’s trash, but I felt like I won the lottery that night.  I was obsessed with magic at the time, plus they were brand spanking new….I got to break the wrapper’s seal and everything.  No one was able to walk in that trailer’s front door without picking a card, any card!

Not all of our toys were from the trash, though. One time momma came home from work and told us to get in the car; she had a surprise for us.

Maurice looked a lot like this little guy

She took us to the Kmart, walked us to the toy section, and stopped on the aisle with the cabbage patch dolls. She told us we could each pick one.  I was like “are you serious!?!?”  The doll I chose was a little boy named Maurice from Mexico. He smelled like baby powder…which to this day I translate as “clean.” I couldn’t wait to send off his adoption certificate. That doll was EVERYTHING!

 

The kindness of strangers

Years ago I found out that my sister and I were often angel tree kids at Christmas time. I can’t ever remember being disappointed on Christmas. To know that strangers often played a part in that is just heartwarming.

For a kid in a low income family, getting gifts of any kind is exciting and  meaningful – whether it’s pack of magic cards that someone else threw out or a name brand baby doll.

It’s easy for me to look to my right and see the friends/neighbors that have more than I do: nicer cars, homes, etc.  But the flip side of that coin:  I can just as easily turn to my left and see the folks that wish they had a fraction of what I have. No matter what path I’m on, I hope I can always remember this.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” ~ Anne Frank

‘Til next time,

~jen

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