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The tag dangled midway up the church Christmas tree, away from many of the others tags that remained.
As my wife and I looked at the ages on the tags of the First Christian Church version of an Angel Tree, we looked for a young child, but we came back to the one with the number 14 on it — the age of this Angel Tree child. This young man is the same age as our son.
We have made our purchases for the youngster — clothes and cologne — and I often have wondered over the last few weeks if this would be all he would receive for Christmas.
At first, I hesitated taking on another child this year for Christmas. We have four kids of our own, a grandchild, many day-to-day expenses and thoughts of one day not having to work.
My wife and I have taken on an “Angel” for the last several years. One year, we bought and bought and bought for a 1-year-old and laughed about what it would be like when we had a grandchild of our own to buy for.
Once we started shopping this year for this young man who we never will meet, whose name we never will know, the more I kept coming back to what life is like for him, and what Christmas Day will be like.
Questions stayed with me at work, at home and while I was driving: How many parents does he have? What happened to put his family in this situation? Where does he go to school? What does he want out of life?
It saddens me that we have any child in our community in need of help to have something as simple as Christmas gifts. But we know every year there are hundreds of kids who would not receive much Christmas morning unless there was help from strangers like you and me.
At 14, I know I didn’t appreciate the life my parents gave me. I want our children to.
Our family is fortunate and I am thankful, despite life’s many frustrations, for the door I open every day to go to work, the life we lead and for the ability to help provide for our children, and this year, a 14-year-old stranger.
My wish for this child and his family is that life gets better for them and next year there will be no need to have his tag, age 15, hanging on a Christmas tree.
What I hope he receives most this holiday season is a desire that one day he, too, will offer to help a stranger at this most special time of year.
Jeff D’Alessio is news editor
at The News-Enterprise.
He can be reached at 505-1757 or firstname.lastname@example.org.