“I’m bringing Jimena boxes with Christmas toys for the kids. I filled up the trunk and put the rest on the back seat.”
“On my back seat!”
Last Friday afternoon I posted a list of Christmas toys for the children of immigrant families. In fact, I posted one Amazon list consisting of some 65 gifted and put together a Walmart list separately. Late Saturday morning, after getting up from our morning sitting schedule, I checked Amazon and there were only four gifts left, everything else had been sold out. Sunday morning the local post office left some 10 boxes on the front steps of the house. And by Monday morning the list had disappeared.
The last time I’d done this, getting school supplies for the same children, I freaked out when I saw the list had disappeared, sure that I’d done something wrong. Amazon informed me that if the list isn’t there, it’s because it’s sold out.
I’ve been bringing boxes to Jimena three days in a row, our deal being that I’d make up the lists and post about them, bring the boxes to her, and she and her husband and two boys would unpack them, recycle the cartons, match the gifts with recipients—and wrap them. Today I’m going over there with $750 in food cards as well.
I’m so moved by Jimena’s family. She works insane hours in an area that is now coded red for covid. “Do the boys help you?” I ask her.
“What we like to do most is sit the four of us around the TV and relax,” she tells me. “So if one person is working hard and the others relax, that doesn’t feel good, so everybody helps the person who’s working and then we can all sit and relax together.”
We’re nearing the end of the year. I don’t celebrate Christmas much, other than wishing folks a Merry Christmas, but I feel I’m getting a huge gift this year, and that is a sense of unfathomable bounty all around.
One day last September, when Amazon delivered gifts of school supplies, I was out front when the truck came down the driveway. A uniformed young woman emerged and looked at me. “Who are you?” she asks.
“Eve Marko,” I tell her.
“I get it, but who are you? I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever come down this driveway before—”
“I don’t often order via Amazon,” I apologize.
“—and now I’m coming down every day with all these boxes!”
I explained to her what we were doing and she laughed. She good-naturedly took out the other boxes from the truck and we waved goodbye.
Who are you? It’s the most basic Zen question of all. These immigrants, all of them undocumented, have a hard time understanding how folks from far away, including outside the U.S., send money to help them. They help each other; they got here because there’s a brother here or a sister they can count on. They give each other lifts in the few cars they have, so that 2 or 3 come at a time for food cards. But folks from far away? Why would they help?
Maybe because there is no such thing as far away. Across nations and cultures, our DNA is still the same. In addition, we can access a storehouse consciousness that is the total of all past experiences and actions, similar to Jung’s collective consciousness. That may explain why, regardless of our present situation, we can know what it is to worry about paying a grocery bill or meeting the rent, standing outside a store window and looking silently, knowing there’s no money to go in and buy something.
Things get pretty dire in winter. The nice relief bill they’re still negotiating in Washington (I imagine they’ll finally agree on something just so that they could finally go home for Christmas) won’t help these families at all. Who does? Local churches, the county’s interfaith council, wonderful (and often overlooked) civic organizations like the Elks and Lions Clubs, Big Brothers/Big Sisters. And people like you and me.
The teachers in the local schools bought out the Walmart list. Jimena’s two boys bought four of the gifts.
Leave it to canine Aussie to remind me of the obstructions we put up to the flow of the universe. It’s my work, my money, my universe. It’s my back seat!
“I don’t know why you worry about them,” she says in the woods. “Do you realize that Donald’s neighbors in Florida don’t want him there? He’s going to be HOMELESS!”
“I don’t think so, Aussie. He’s got lots of homes, just not the White House as of January 20.”
“If he wasn’t white or blonde—”
“—you’d be plenty worried. You only care about foreigners. Like Henry here, who’s stealing all my treats.”
In the woods, Henry comes running every minute for a treat. He’s supposed to get it only on recall or checking in, but he looks for one as soon as he jumps out of the car.
“Henry, this is an out-ing, not a treat-ing, get it?” snarls Aussie.
“No,” says he.
“On an out-ing, you run around and come back a few times for a treat. In a treat-ing, you constantly get for treats and in between you take a few steps.” She looks up at me and growls. “This is what happens when you don’t speak English.”
We’re preparing for a big storm. I brought up the battery-powered lamps, made a last delivery to the compost pile (it will probably be covered by snow and ice for a while), and filled bird feeders. I fill the birdfeeders and Aussie walks behind me, pouncing on those who feed on the seeds that fell to the ground. She’s already gotten herself a squirrel this winter.
“She wouldn’t get them if you didn’t feed them,” someone said to me.
That’s one way to look at it.