What Money Can’t Buy

(Big ups to the film About Schmidt for the help with the conclusion!)

I’m sitting on my desk at work when suddenly my friend texts me- “Are you ready for Christmas?”

Am I ready for Christmas? Really? Is that what you’re going to ask me? Being ready for Christmas is the least of my worries.  Obviously what she’s really asking is-

“Have you fulfilled your social and consumer obligation to purchase unnecessary material goods to your friends and family and concealed them in cheap paper made from a thousand tree’s?”

To which I respond. Yes. Of course.

Not that I want to brag but I finished all my shopping 4 months ago. So you understand why that question is so irrelevant.

In fact, not only did I already do my shopping but I’ve also managed to book some over time hours on the 24th and the 25th and still be able to make it to the family dinner.

I’m not a Scrooge or anything but I can’t pass up the opportunity of making triple time during Christmas. It’s not like I look forward to our family dinner so it’s a win-win situation. I know what you’re thinking- what a cliché- working girl that doesn’t like to spend time with her family.

It’s just that can I do without all the awkward prying into my life by relatives who still think of me as the 5 year old who peed on Santa’s lap. I can also do without my dad’s drinking and passing out before we open gifts. I always have to tell my nephews that it’s the tryptophan in the turkey that makes grandpa drowsy. To which I have to explain to them what tryptophan is which usually confuses them even more. But hey, at least they don’t think their grandpa is a drunk.

I hate spending Christmas with my family.

It’s like time stands still when I go home. Everything remains unmoved and unchanged. The smell of my childhood lingers in that house. But I’ve changed. I’m not that little girl with a messed up family. I own a house. I have a lot of friends.  I have a good job. I give money to charity.  But for some reason, those things don’t matter, I’m still haunted by what a horrible human I am… for being ashamed of my family.

To make things worst, to deal with my guilt I buy expensive gifts for everyone. Somehow I think that those gifts make up for the resentment I feel. My Dad still has no idea how to use his laptop. I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for Christmas.

So the other day I was going through my mail and in the middle of my bills and flyers there was this letter…this letter… that …changed everything for me.  I know I’m a failure and I’m a horrible human being but maybe… that’s not all that I am.

Let me read you what the letter said:

My name is Edith Valpoy, I’m a registered nurse. I work in a small village near the city of Raipur in India. One of the children I care for is little Abishek Patel, –the boy you sponsor. Abishek is a very intelligent boy, –and very loving.

Recently he needed medical attention for an infection of the eye.                         But he is better now. He loves to eat mango and he loves to paint.

He wants to have a family one day so you can visit him and see how you helped him. He hopes that you are happy in your life and healthy.

He thinks of you everyday.

Abishek is new to the school so he’s still learning to read and write.                    But, he has made for you a drawing.

He hopes that you will like his drawing.

Yours sincerely… Edith Valpoy.

After I read this I sat down and cried…It’s funny how something so small can make you feel so big.

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