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Just Call Me Elf — Another Holiday Story

My little Subaru Impreza fully loaded and ready for this “Elf” to deliver some holiday joy to those in need.

I grew up in what was considered an affluent suburb outside of Detroit. And, yes, by definition, it was a privileged life. But my parents made sure we understood how fortunate we were growing up and I would like to think I never took any of it for granted.

It was around this time every year that my mother would ask us to go through our clothes, toys and other personal belongings to see what we had that could be donated to those in need. I assume it was primarily because the donation needed to be recorded for tax purposes before the end of the year, but also because it was Michigan…in December…during winter break…and there was not much else for us to do so maybe my mother was taking advantage of us being trapped indoors?

Nah, I learned to be ruthless when it comes to decluttering from her…she was more than capable of going into our rooms anytime she wanted and clear out any chaos.

The reality was, though, none of us were particularly messy kids and I don’t even remember having that much stuff in our rooms. I mean, mine was the size of a postage stamp and my brother’s was only slightly bigger because he had a double closet. My sister, the oldest, had the biggest room but two twins and a dresser pretty much filled the space so we aren’t talking palatial.

But I digress…

Back to my mother’s annual ritual…

It was a very methodical and organized process. And considering my mother’s organizing DNA clearly was passed down to me, I was a very willing helper as she inventoried every single item on several legal size sheets of paper that were to serve as documentation should the deduction on the family tax returns ever come into question during a very unlikely, but it could happen to anyone, IRS audit. The piles of “stuff” took over a large area of our finished basement for about a week, then got put into bags and placed on the front porch for a local charity to pick up.

I remember asking my mother if we could find out who was getting any of our donations and she said that it would be too embarrassing to the individuals or families. I didn’t understand why anyone would be embarrassed to ask for help, especially basic necessities like food and clothing.

I still don’t.

No one should ever be embarrassed, ashamed or judged for needing a winter coat, shoes, pots and pans or anything else for that matter. And if ever there was a time for our society to lead with compassion on this particular matter, this past year was it.

Yet, here we are in the final days of 2020. And while there have been incredible acts of kindness all over the internet this holiday season and throughout the pandemic, race riots and election insanity, I am still shocked and dismayed by comments that people are making on some of the local Facebook group pages that have been attempting to match as many people in need as possible with those willing to adopt families or make general donations.

When I stumbled upon one group page a few months ago, I immediately connected with the admin to let her know that I am always getting various items from my home organizing and move management clients. And in the brief time we’ve known each other I am in awe of her commitment and persistence in pushing past a lot of the negativity and, well, bullshit, that people throw at her for simply being a charitable person.

Comments like “Go get a job like the rest of us” or “They are just looking for handouts” are not helpful. And if I have one more entitled parent with entitled kids message me that they don’t understand why I won’t give them any of the stuff I post for free I am truly going to lose my mind.

Seriously, what is wrong with our country?

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve written those words, said them out loud or thought about them in my head in the past 24 hours it seems let alone the past several weeks or months.

Ok, let’s face it, this country has never been perfect. And these days being on social media, even for good reasons, can be sad and anxiety producing. The reality is that being alive every day can be really sad and anxiety producing if you allow it to take over your emotional and mental well being.

I personally refuse to let some selfish, inconsiderate and, yes, what appear to be unhappy people take away my joy…

…especially this time of the year

…especially this year

…especially at this time of this particular year

So I became quite the holiday elf over the past few weeks as clients have parted with more and more things that I am then passing on directly to those most in need in my local community…

…and yes, it was time consuming, but I was able to do it in part thanks to social media for giving me the platform to spread the word when I had, for example, a bazillion LEGOS to donate.

No, I did not separate them by color before donating them. That was already done by my client’s 13 year old son…a boy that definitely speaks to this particular professional organizer’s heart.

It took a few days but I did finally get the go ahead to drop them off at EFAA-Emergency Family Assistance Association in Boulder this past Friday.

And just as I was leaving I heard someone say my name, I turned around and saw the guy in the photo below pulling down his mask…more than 6 feet apart thank you very much. We used to work together for a research company, but both of us got laid off on the same day in June 2017 and hadn’t seen or spoken to each other since which if you know me you know that is kind of unusual since I tend to connect well with co-workers and maintain relationships outside of work and long after any of us have left a particular job. I’m not sure why we lost track of each other but it happens. I’m just happy to know he is ok and doing incredible work in our community.

The feeling is mutual about this woman…

She has been managing the Facebook group page that I actively engage with to get donations from my clients. And yesterday’s delivery was a Christmas tree and a whole bunch of ornaments. A few days before, I handed over this thingy…

When I told her I had it she said she had literally just gotten a request from a family that couldn’t afford any Christmas gifts, but their son really wanted a hoverboard. I will consider it a Christmukkah miracle!

Or if we want to throw in a little Yiddish…it was beshert!

Direct translation? … Soulmate

But it is also used as a way to describe when something is “meant to be”.

Sidenote: Is it just me or does everyone else immediately think of Marty McFly in Back To The Future using one of these ???

So whether it’s a hoverboard, LEGOS or anything else, I am happy to be an Elf, Fairy Godmother or any other type of conduit for bringing any kind of peace and joy to those in such dire need, not just during the holidays but year round.

That said, I am not necessarily happy to be an “arms dealer” and yet that is exactly what I found myself doing last week after the same client with all of the LEGOS asked me to get rid of three guns, rifles, whatever the technical terms may be for them. I was schooled on the difference, but honestly do not care to retain any of that knowledge in my memory bank. Sorry, I’m just not someone who likes guns, wants to be anywhere near guns, understands the desire to make it a sport, etc. etc. etc.

I am, however, someone who wanted to make sure that I handled the transfer legally. I decided to post a general inquiry on Facebook…yes…before going to Google since I think I trust my friends more than anything on Google these days, especially about weapons.

Can you blame me?

I have to say, though, my peaceful, non-violent, never kill a fly friends surprised me when not one, but two called me within minutes of asking for recommendations.


Well, I know more about the process than I ever imagined, but so glad to know that Colorado does seem to have a safe and sound policy for transferring guns to anyone outside of your immediate family. Whether or not the good citizens of this State all abide by it I have no control over.

I am just over here doing the right thing which is pretty much what I think I always do each and every day.

For the record, I will not be driving the guns/rifles/whatever to the gun store for the transfer since I need to be at my client’s house at that time getting schooled on a roofing/ice dam/false ceiling issue. I swear the amount of random things I learn being a professional organizer is mind blowing…mostly useless taking up way too much space in my memory…but mind blowing just the same!

Be well, be safe, Happy Holidays and, most importantly, always be good to people!

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