Mom's Eye View
The Goats of Christmas Past
Over the years, my three children have asked for and received plenty of ‘typical’ Christmas presents. In younger years it was baby dolls and metal cars, now as teenagers they prefer an ‘alphabet soup’ of technology: CDs, DVDs, Mp3s, iPods. But I know nothing will ever mean as much or be as well-remembered as the goat that defined Christmas for us several years back, when a simple barnyard critter embodied the true spirit of the season.
Our goat-centered holiday started at the mailbox on a gray afternoon in early November. Along with the usual junk mail, the postman had delivered a very unusual catalog. Unlike the glossy brochures from the big toy stores and outlet malls, this little magazine came from a charitable organization dedicated to helping the poor in Haiti, and it offered page after page of items to give the less fortunate. Selections ran the gamut from simple items like a week’s worth of rice for $10 to an all-inclusive kit for building a two bedroom house — complete with mini-kitchen and bathroom — at just over $2,500. But the entry that caught our attention was a fuzzy little farm animal for the bargain price of only $45. The children, ranging in age from 8 to 11, were mesmerized at the notion of purchasing a goat for Christmas.
“Your generous donation of a goat will provide a needy family with milk and cheese for years to come,” the catalog blurb promised. “This life-giving gift could mean the difference between going hungry every night or having enough food for weary parents and hungry children.”
We were sold. That very day we cut out the goat’s catalog picture and taped it to an empty pickle jar and set it on the dining room table so everyone could drop in contributions. Our goal was to collect $45 by mid-December, making our Christmas goat dream come true.
The children immediately began referring to our sponsored goat as ‘Cheddar Bob.’ (Like most things my kids come up with, the logic of their thought process is foggy and elusive — the only thing I can figure is that “Cheddar” refers to the fact that goats’ milk can be made into cheese, and “Bob” — who knows? Male goats don’t give milk — let alone cheese — so that remains a mystery to me even now.) Whenever any of them were asked, “so, what do you want for Christmas?” they answered with, “we want to send Cheddar Bob to Haiti.”
The ‘Cheddar Bob Fund’ grew at first by dimes and quarters, then paper dollars began showing through the glass jar. My husband would forego his beloved Starbuck’s coffee and put the money towards the goat instead; the children took on extra chores to help meet our goal. When Christmas cards arrived with cash inside from aunts and grandparents, the children gleefully stuffed the loot into the ever-filling jar, determined to purchase Cheddar Bob in time for the holidays.
Two weeks before Christmas, we dumped out the jar’s contents and counted the money. To everyone’s delight, our total was $91.25, more than double the required $45 donation! Ecstatic, my daughter immediately declared, “we can send the family two goats — a boy and a girl! Then they’ll have goat babies!” (Within seconds, the goat-bride was dubbed ‘Colby Jane’ and plans for the furry couple’s Haitian homecoming were being made.)
That was five years ago, and I don’t remember a single gift the kids got for Christmas that year, and I doubt they do either. I’m sure we received lots of lovely things, given from truly loving and generous hearts. But the lasting memory of that holiday will always be of a goat we never saw, who lives on in our imaginations to this day. Every Christmas, we say a prayer for the Haitian family who taught us that it really is better to give than receive, and we speculate on Cheddar Bob and his Colby Jane, and their happy adventures on a distant farm. By now, they surely must have quite a large family of goat children (whose names I won’t offer, but you can probably guess.)
|Copyright 2012 Miles Jesu. All rights reserved.|