Yesterday, Christmas broke for me.
I stood in the Staten Island Mall ready to check of my list of phones and sweatshirts and DVDs and scarves and I watched the mobs. People shoving, kids demanding, crying, couples arguing. I had just come from lunch at my grandmother's... a sparsely attended lunch that was supposed to be about mending our family. I sat with her afterwards, while she cried about what had happened to our family... decade plus long grudges, death, distance... We're so much smaller than we used to be that the holidays are a downer for both of us.
And then I looked back at my list. Phone, DVDs, scarf, sweatshirts, etc... and stared into the masses who cared a lot more about Wii than "We".
I walked out. Actually, I nearly ran out. I couldn't get away from it fast enough. I peeled out of the parking lot, went home, and just started calling friends to vent.
Somebody moved around their own plans last night to make time for me to just go to the movies and when I got home, I made a list of all of the charities that people in my life cared about and started clicking away.
So instead of giving gifts this year (except for the webcam thing, which was meant to bring together family anyway) I donated a thousand dollars among the following charities:
The ALS Association (in memory of my grandfather, Elisio Piro)
The Guild for Exceptional Children (in memory of my uncle, Arthur Piro)
St. Rose's Home (in memory of my other grandmother's husband, Louis Mello)
MS Society (because of parents of two close friends and a biker raising money)
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (friend's sybling)
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk (friend's charity of choice)
American Foundation for the Blind (friend works there, two friends' parents are blind)
Save Darfur (because the US doesn't seem to want to do much here)
So that's it... I'm not giving anything, nor do I want anything. This makes a lot more sense to me than buying people stuff the don't really need or can just buy themselves.
One day, I'll have kids and a family and Legos and a tree and all that stuff... 15, 20... 40 people at my house... squeezed in, extra tables, kiddie tables, eating on the roof... wherever there's a spot... and still too much food... and we'll all appreciate what it means and look forward to it for weeks. For now, though, I'll just try to help someone else accomplish that.