Since I first began working in high school, one of my favorite things about the Christmas season has been Angel Tree, a ministry that buys Christmas gifts for the children of prison inmates. We always had an Angel Tree set up at my church, and I would carefully read each angel card until one connected with me. I would then go out and spend way too much money fulfilling the simple gift requests of the child and the convicted parent. I never met any of the children, but I imagined their surprise and joy to see a package at Christmas that was from their incarcerated parent, a parent who thought of them often and wanted them to know how loved they were at the holidays.
For the first time, I have not plucked an angel from the tree. My hours at work have been repeatedly cut until, finally, I was laid off on Monday. There are not many job options here right now; there haven’t been for months. I’m not sure when my next paycheck will come, so I did not take an angel. That has been bothering me for days, so although the rest of my spending must come to an end, I will still pick an angel and buy that child Christmas gifts.