They weren't going to put up a Christmas tree.
After recently losing their home in a fire and what little belongings they had to start with, the man and his two teenaged children were going to "skip" Christmas.
That's what the social worker told me today. "Bill" didn't want a tree because "he didn't want to create the expectation that there would be anything under it." Bill, a member of the working poor, can't provide enough to properly care for his disabled 19-year-old son and his 15-year-old daughter. And he was exasperated.
I'm happy to report that the social worker convinced him to put up a tree. And, in as much as I could jam into Ladybird this afternoon, there are presents to go under it. LOTS of them. And there is food. There are gift cards, cleaning supplies, cooking and kitchen supplies. In fact, between this family, and the family that my floor adopted, I couldn't fit all of it in the car! Ideally, many of the things this family finds under their tree will not just be helpful at Christmas but for some time to come.
Unfortunately, none of the good will and the warm fuzzies are doing much to soothe my aching back or throbbing feet. Oh, it was plenty worth it. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Playing Santa is exhausting ... but damn is it good for the soul.