A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's a Wrap!

My husband is a real estate broker and has had his own small company for 30 years. Each year they would have a Christmas celebration of some kind with gifts for each other. About 16-17 years ago one of the agents suggested that, rather than give gifts to each other, they "adopt" needy families in our community and give them gifts and food. Thus started the tradition of the annual Wrap Party. Each year one of Ed's agents collects contributions from the agents in the office, as well as some other companies that they work closely with. Names of needy families are gathered from the Viola Blythe Center in Newark. Viola Blythe was a longtime Newark resident who spent over 50 years of her life helping the "homeless, helpless, and hungry".

We usually have 4 to 6 families per year, depending on contributions. The money is divided up among the families and a couple of us get to do the shopping. Armed with a list per family which includes names, ages, and wish lists - along with an envelope of money per family - we head off to do the shopping. The more sales we can find, the more gifts each member gets. Ed and I have shopped for two of the families each year and it's one of those things that just feels good to do.

Then we have the Wrap Party. Everyone who contributes comes to our house, with their families, and food to share, and we have a huge potluck and then get to wrapping. Crowds have ranged from 15 to 35. Being the compulsive organizers that Ed and I are, we have the tables all ready with wrapping paper, scissors, tape, labels, bags for the wrapped gifts, etc. While the women do most of the wrapping, the men head into the garage to make up food boxes for each family. Peanut butter, pasta, sauce, pancake mix, soups, potatoes, and a gift certificate for a full turkey dinner from Safeway.

All the boxes are delivered to the Center the next day and this is the first year that I have been able to be part of that. I also had Vika and Eamon with me and it was a good experience for them to see the appreciation on the faces of the families as we gave them their boxes of food and gifts. For some of them, this is all they will receive this year. We took photos with the families, we shed some tears, and we hugged the kids.

Two years ago we had an exciting sideline at the party when one of the guests spilled a full glass of red wine on the beige living room carpet. Suddenly six or seven people armed with napkins and rags were frantically pouring salt on the spill, mopping it up, using the whole bottle of wine away. Of course, some of them began wiping with the red and green Christmas napkins that we had out. Not a good thing. So those stains had to be removed too. One of the attendees was a young, very handsome man from an outside contributing company - wearing a white shirt. A large portion of the wine landed on his sleeve and the front of his shirt. So he was taken into the bathroom by a couple of the younger women who forced themselves to help him clean up. He had to sit around for a couple of hours while we washed and dried his shirt (which came out fine, thankyouverymch) - trying to look cool in the white t-shirt that, luckily, he had on under his shirt. The girls were loving it. I don't think he ever came to another party.....

In the mad rush of the holidays, this event centers us and helps us remember what true giving is all about.


Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful thing you all do, wine spilled or not :)
Sandi, Wasn't it you who I sent the recipe for wine biscuits to? (yes, a senior moment here!)
Well, I posted them and if you were the one I sent this to, please note the changes in the recipe, ok?
I tell ya, getting older is no picnic! haha
Merry Christmas!

catheroo said...

Oh. What a nice thing you and Ed do! I love this post :-)

And I love the new header and snow!

Jenni said...

I love that the women "forced themselves" to help the handsome young man out of his shirt. I'm sure it was a real hardship for them. ;)

The outing yesterday made quite an impression on Vika and Eamon. Thanks for letting them be a part of it.

namaste said...

oh sandi, that is a wonderful tradition you, ed and the others have going. simply beautiful.

and i keep forgetting to say: i love your holiday header! it's gorgeous!

great post.

Drowsey Monkey said...

lol - your parties sound interesting! lol poor guy.

I think what you guys do is wonderful and so important especially this time of year.

Desert Diva said...

A beautiful tradition and so giving. I love the photo of you and Ed together - you look so "happy!"

Daisy said...

LOVE this idea!!! Perhaps I shall have to steal it from you! Mwahhahhaha! :D

ba and the boys said...

i once had an 'angel tree' card and all this little 5 year old wanted was a soft pillow. it made us all cry. how can kids not have a pillow?
giving is the best part of the holidays-it doesnt matter if you know the person or not. just knowing in your heart that you helped another-just like christ would do-is all i need.
merry christmas!