Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Grrrrr... Happy Hanukkah....not!

Every year we count on a particular PRIVATE agency for Hanukkah presents for the kids. This is not a secular agency, it's a private Jewish agency serving family and children in the greater Boston area. We've been clients for years. We don't ask much of the agency, just freaking Hanukkah presents once a year. We don't expect much, we usually just get a few small things, but enough to fill in for the days when I haven't been able to get my kids something. Never for me, I don't expect anything, but just for the kids. They send out a form in October asking what the kids want. I send it back filled out carefully, making sure that there are enough small items that the kids will get at least something they like.

They just delivered the packages. To say I'm disappointed would be an understatement. I'm livid. I mean, one freaking holiday we ask for help. We don't ask for any other financial aid, although they have it aplenty for the Russian immigrants that not only know how to work the system, but are the agency's top priority. We could ask for membership in the JCC. We could ask for financial help with bills and housing. But we don't. We ask for Hanukkah presents for the kids.

One sad little gift card each to Target. Not even enough to get anything good at Target. Even if they combined the gift cards, it wouldn't be enough. One freaking gift card! Like that's going to make it a happy happy Hanukkah.

I bought the kids clothes that they needed anyhow, but I really wanted to have them get something fun, something that they could enjoy, something lighthearted and special. Instead, they get one freaking gift card. Now, I'm not stupid. I know people are hurting economically all over the map. I know that this is a hard time for most people, that 2/3 of the middle class are in danger of dropping down to lower class levels. I read the newspaper. I'm aware that finances are tighter than they have been in years. But this is an AGENCY that sends more money to Israel, Russia, and Argentina than they spend on poor Jews at home. It's just wrong to stiff families at Hanukkah when they know that their donations might possibly be the only gifts the kids get for Hanukkah. Not this year, but in the past their donations HAVE been the only gifts my kids have gotten. Try to explain one little gift certificate to a kid living in a town where other kids get cars, Iphones, and ponys. It's hard.

I know I sound ungrateful, and I'm not really. But this agency has been extremely difficult to deal with in the past, and I really hate that I'm going to have to call them on Monday and say "what the hell happened?" I mean, it's very possible that this could have been a mistake. Maybe not, but it's possible. Volunteers pick up and deliver stuff along with our monthly food order (the Agency sponsors the site of the Kosher food bank) and maybe they just missed a bag. That's not unlikely at all, seeing as how in the past volunteers have forgotten to deliver much of the food we're supposed to get monthly (and it's NOT a lot, so don't get all huffy about what an ungrateful bitch I am). I know I have to call, but I'm not looking forward to it at all. Last year they delivered the wrong presents entirely, and we got a bunch of stuff for tiny kids. They were very nice about replacing the presents with quite a few large gift certificates, which is why I believe this was a mistake. Never have I seen anything like ONE gift certificate donated by a synagogue north of the city, not even the agency itself.

I frigging HATE being poor. My kids will get something this year, but not even enough for one present a night. I just HATE this. It makes me so mad that I feel compelled to make attempts to keep up with the Cohens, but I do. I want my kids to have stuff. I want them to feel like they're not all that different from their friends. So much of what their friends have is already denied to them. They don't deserve to have an agency stiff them.

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Blogger Barbara said...

Wow! that really stinks.

Wanted to invite you to join the JBlogs aggregator so your great blog gets wider distribution:


2/12/07 11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to say this, but you should feel fortunate that you were given any help. I say this because in many other places in New England, programs have dried up entirely. I know of more than a few towns that cut staff for general assistance and therefore no one is available to head Christmas programs for the needy.
Count your blessings, Margalit.

3/12/07 12:23 AM  
Blogger Keli Ata said...

It is a pretty rotten deal. And I can't imagine what fun there is getting a gift card. Kids usually like presents that are wrapped in pretty paper; they like surprises. It would be nice if these agencies had Wish Lists so the kids could get things they really want, within reason of course. I mean $400 for an iPhone is a bit much for a charity to hand out.

I know a lot of families go broke at Christmas, too, taking out loans just to keep up with their neighbors. Even stocking stuffers have gotten out of control. When I was kid, my parents would put different chocolates, crayons, coloring books, magazines, make-up in my stocking. Now stocking stuffers can cost up $5-$10a piece or more. Honestly! I've even seen jewelry advertised as stocking stuffers. Sorry but a diamond tennis bracelet just aint a stocking stuffer, it's a major gift.

Things have really gotten out of control.

What makes Christmas particularly bad for poor children is the lie about Santa Claus bringing gifts to the good kids and coal for the bad kids. Poor kids wonder what they did that was so bad that they didn't get a parlor full of gifts.

At least Jewish children are spared this particular hurt. But it is hard for any kid to see their friends getting nice gifts while they don't.

And of course at school after vacation there's always the "what did you get?" for Christmas/Chanukah talk.

You're right. Being poor does suck.

3/12/07 12:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but give me a break. Everybody wants more for their kids than they had for themselves. Everybody wants to see their children's faces light up. But you have a lot of nerve to criticize a charitible organization's priorities when they're offering serious and much-needed aid to people who barely have a roof over their heads and not buying your own kids Iphones.

You do indeed sound ungrateful, and I think it's a crying shame you don't get called on it more often. I don't make a million dollars a year, and we live in an area of the country where the cost of living is extraordinarily high, and yet I don't begrudge the homeless a hot meal. I don't request assistance and then moan because somebody else gets more than me.

I think I'm all done with your blog, Margalit, and I'm sure you won't miss me, but I had to let you know that what's driven me off is your complete focus on yourself and your family, even while you brag about your liberal bias and lecture your readers on your pet causes. Boo.

3/12/07 10:41 AM  
Blogger adena said...

we have enough, so I sent you something to your yahoo account - did you receive it? if things get easier for you another year, maybe you can pass it on to someone else...

3/12/07 7:21 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Wow...**shakes head**...wow!! I hope the people who receive gifts,and more importantly oil for heat (do you have to pay for your heat? It's pretty freaking expensive nowadays)and food from the charity I give to are more gracious with what they receive than you are.
I don't leave negative comments when I disagree with you but this time I couldn't remain silent.

3/12/07 9:26 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Well, what I find most interesting about the anonymous comments is that you all assumed that I'm ungrateful when I stated clearly that I was grateful for what we had received, and that I understood that it was a terrible year for everyone and that the middle class was being slowly eroded by an unjust war and the cost to everyone in terms of social services and basic necessities. I GET that. What I didn't get is the difference between this year's paucity and every other year's generosity.

So I called the agency to ask, and guess what? It WAS a mistake. I knew it had to be. It was just so DIFFERENT than it had ever been before, and what happened was just what I thought had happened. The volunteer family hadn't picked up part of our package, which is now coming by mail and should arrive shortly.

What you assumed was me being a whiny jerk was in fact me questioning why something happened that I didn't understand. One proactive phone call set me to rights, and now I'm just fine. But thanks for asking!

3/12/07 11:47 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Adena, I did, but I didn't know how to get in touch with you to thank you. You don't have an email link on your blog and there was no link from Amazon that led to an email address. That's the thing I like about Amazon, you can donate anonymously (yay Rambam) but then again, it's annoying when you want to say Thank You! And I do very much Thank You. You're a mensch.

3/12/07 11:50 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Lynn, yes I DO have to pay for my head, along with my electricity. And my rent, which is over 80% of our combined SSDI checks. Which is why we're so poor.

Honestly, I'm not ungrateful. I really am not. I'm just so tired of having to backtrack on everything just to make sure that I've got all my bases covered. I make upwards of 4 hours of phone calls/day just making sure various and sundry agencies are doing what they're supposed to. Most people just give up in disgust, but I'm not like most people. So when I have an issue with an agency, I worry about it. Note the url of this blog. It's called that for a reason. Professional worrier here.

3/12/07 11:53 PM  
Blogger adena said...

it was my pleasure...sounds like you have a LOT on your plate (kids, mental health and health issues) and if this helps, it's well worth it...enjoy the holiday...and the latkes!

4/12/07 9:10 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Glad to see you joined Jblogs.

BTW - I have 10 year old twins and have been battling Insulin Resistance, PCOS - for 41 years and Atypical MS for 12 years.

So I 'feel your pain' - and wish you a wonderful Hanukah

4/12/07 9:53 PM  
Anonymous Mom on Coffee said...

I'm sorry I haven't commented until now, being a member of NE Mamas, I really should get around more often to comment.

I just wanted to say I'm really sorry this happened. As a mother I can certainly understand your frustration with wanting to give something to your kids for special holidays, only to have something unexpected change it all.

I, for one, can certainly see that your post simply came out of frustration.

Many wishes for a Happy Hanukkah.

6/12/07 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Mom on Coffee said...

I'm sorry I haven't commented until now, being a member of NE Mamas, I really should get around more often to comment.

I just wanted to say I'm really sorry this happened. As a mother I can certainly understand your frustration with wanting to give something to your kids for special holidays, only to have something unexpected change it all.

I, for one, can certainly see that your post simply came out of frustration.

Many wishes for a Happy Hanukkah.

6/12/07 10:51 AM  

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