The Monthly Project: Gift of Giving – Update

I went out this weekend and bought my Toys for Tots donation…it’s just as hard every year, and I’m just as surprised every year at how hard it really is. Every year it’s on my mental list of things to do in December, and I don’t really give it a second thought…I’ve done it every year since 1996, and it seems that by now it shouldn’t be such a big deal. And every year, either as I’m buying the toy or leaving it at the TfT donation site (or both), the tears start. Every. Stupid. Year.

For those wondering why the simple act of buying a toy could be so hard, I’ll explain. In January 1996 my nephew, Tyler, was born. I only got to meet him twice, because I lived across the country from my family. I didn’t hold him either of those two times because he was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake him. (That, and I felt like a total klutz around babies.) Who knew that those would be the only two times I would get to see my little nephew? But in May, on the day that he was 4 months and 21 days old, Tyler died. The official report was SIDS. My family has a few questions about that, though. Turns out the teenaged son of the daycare provider was in the room when Tyler died…and was in the room another time when a baby died at that daycare from SIDS. I choose to believe SIDS, because it’s easier for me to deal with.

I won’t get into how hard it was for our family to deal with – I’m sure you can all imagine; and I can tell you that whatever you imagine will not be an exaggeration.

Christmas was that much harder that year – we had been expecting to celebrate Tyler’s first Christmas, which made the holidays seem bleak instead of festive. I decided that year that the one thing I could do to make something good come from all of this was to donate a toy in his memory. I would buy a toy for a boy the age that Tyler would have been. It wouldn’t bring back my nephew, but would brighten someone’s holiday.

It goes without saying that I would rather be buying Tyler something for Christmas…and that’s what hits me every year when I go to buy my TfT donation. I wonder if he would be totally into Legos, like his brother (now 18) still is. Maybe he’d be a geek like me. Maybe he’d be a total tech-head. Maybe outdoorsy. Maybe so many things that I’ll never know.

That’s why my TfT donation is so hard every year. And that’s why I still have to do it every year. What are you going to do to help someone this year?

11 Comments

  1. roo said,

    December 13, 2010 @ 12:40 pm

    What a wonderful thing for you to do. I’m so sorry you lost your nephew. Nothing can replace him in your heart but knowing you’re doing something for a child who otherwise wouldn’t receive anything hopefully gives you a little bit of peace each Christmas season.

  2. Melissa-Shrinking Jeans said,

    December 13, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

    Wow, that just breaks my heart! xoxo

  3. Brooke said,

    December 13, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

    i won’t imagine how difficult it must have been…still is…because i’m not strong enough for that. so instead i’ll say what an incredible woman you are! for allowing yourself to feel the pain every year…allowing yourself that moment to break down…for helping make someone else’s Christmas a bit brighter.

    *hugs* my friend.

  4. barb said,

    December 13, 2010 @ 3:54 pm

    No one thinks they’re strong enough for something like that…you just do what you have to do to get through it. I remember thinking that everything we did was the hardest thing I’d ever done…until I had to do the next thing, which was then the hardest thing I’d ever done. I can’t even imagine what it was like for my brother and his wife (though they’re now divorced).

    I don’t usually feel incredible this time of year – thanks for the perspective.

  5. Kim said,

    December 13, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

    what an awesome thing for you to do!!!

    {{{hugs}}}

  6. christieo said,

    December 13, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

    oh barb, thank you for sharing that, i am so so sorry. time heals many wounds but not all of them. but it’s just so wonderful that you’re donating toys in memory of your nephew. you are making sure that he is never ever forgotten and neither are the little boys you’re helping every year in his name. love to you. xo

  7. AnnG said,

    December 13, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

    Nothing like making a girl cry! Glad that you have found a way to remember him every year and donating to a worthy cause too.

  8. Jaime said,

    December 13, 2010 @ 10:48 pm

    You’re doing such a great thing every year, as hard as I’m sure it must be. I’m so sorry that any family has to go through something like that.

    My grandfather is big on donations to various causes. He especially loves donating to an orphanage in New York. I believe I’ll be donating to them this year, in honor of him. (He’s not home, after being hospitalized more than 2 weeks ago.) I think he’d like that.

    In addition to that, every year we donate to Salvation Army and to the Humane Society in our town.

  9. xj said,

    December 14, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

    Barb…I’m sorry about Tyler! I think that it is sweet that you are honoring his memory by helping another child.

  10. » Weigh-in Wednesday – Holiday Hoedown Week 4 A Jiggly Chick Loses Weight said,

    December 15, 2010 @ 8:05 am

    […] know exactly why. It’s because I did something that made me cry on Sunday, and then I blogged about it on Monday, which made me cry all over again, then people left me very nice comments, which made me cry even […]

  11. Pubsgal said,

    December 15, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

    (((hug))). I’m so sorry that your family had to deal with such a tragic loss. I think that’s a really beautiful way of remembering Tyler.

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