I did our weekly grocery shopping yesterday and on the way out the door, I spotted what I thought was an “Angel Tree” for local needy children. You know, pick an “Angel” with a child’s name and a list of the gifts that they want and / or need for Christmas.
Instead, this was a “Senior Tree”–a tree for needy senior citizens. I had never seen such a thing.
I am always saddened by the Angel Tree kids that ask for notebooks and pencils, gloves, socks, a winter coat, all those things that seem like necessities and not like fun, playful gifts for Christmas. I guess one version of Heaven will be a world where kids don’t have to ask for basics but can ask for (and get) frivolous gifts, gifts that they totally don’t need but just want.
The gifts that the Seniors asked for broke my heart as much as a kid asking for school supplies for Christmas. I picked a senior named Sarah who asked for a sweat suit, some chocolate, some tissues and a soft blanket for her bed.
I went back to the store tonight to buy all the items for which Sarah asked. And being a contemplative person, I naturally started to think about my (I-hope-I-have-them) senior years.
Matt and I don’t have any children, either with each other or with other people. For me, a childless state isn’t something that I consciously chose–it just kinda happened this way. One path taken, another path missed, a spell at this rest stop, and ta-da, before I knew it, I was in my late 30s, still single with no children. Matt and I met; he reluctantly fell in love with me (I fell in love more willingly with him) and we married, but we both knew that at this point in our lives, we didn’t want to have children.
One of my greatest fears is that I will be old and alone. I guess I could add at this point the cliché about having 30 cats, but I won’t. (Well, actually, I just did, but I didn’t mean to.) Who is going to take care of us when we get old? Who is going to make sure that we are ok? If Matt goes before I do, then I’m really going to be alone. I really hope that I go first. (Sorry, Matt, if that seems selfish. It is, but I’ll be dead so you shouldn’t be mad at me.)
Matt has wisely pointed out that having children doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have someone to care for or about you when you are old. I know that. But my imaginary children that I raise in response to seeing how poorly other people are raising their children are so well behaved that I just know that they would take care of us and love us and feed us and change us. (My imaginary children also always do their homework, never talk back, obey without question, and respect me unreservedly. I’m that good of an imaginary mother.)
It is very scary to think that in 20 to 30 years, somebody could be pulling a card off of a Senior Tree with the name “Cristy” on it. Will they be as saddened as I was by Sarah’s card? I’m going to start stocking up now on tissues and chocolate so that I can ask for some fun stuff.
Here’s my prayer:
If I ever have a card on a Senior Tree, Dear Lord, please let me have enough friends and loved ones to visit me and provide companionship, remember me on my birthday, buy me sweatsuits and food that I like, send me emails and letters, and remind me that I am loved so that I can ask on my card for:
- Dr. Dre headphones (to listen to my 80s-90s Rock w/o disturbing my roommate)
- Some exercise bands to stay in shape to fight the other women for the limited men at my age
- Good mixer to make mashed potatoes (to fight the other women for the limited men at my age)
- Two words: PLASTIC SURGERY