Our first attempt ended about 5 minutes in when we realized it was just way too cold to attempt outdoor photos. Our second attempt was this past Saturday and the weather was the other extreme. It was dreary and raining. By the time our shoot start time came around, the rain had already started washing away the snow. So we opted for the winter garden in the Harold Washington Library, hoping it would have some sort of Christmas ambiance under it's glass roof. It did not. So we got a few shots, but in the end, it wasn't what any of us expected. (Note to future self: finding indoor public locations with Christmas decor in the city is TOUGH. Get to scouting locations!)
I left our shoot feeling disappointed and even less in the Christmas spirit than I had before. I fully admit that I am not in the Christmas spirit at all this year. (Unlike my friend Kelsa who literally is filled with the Christmas spirit all the way to her tippy toes.) In no way have I decorated my home. It looks the same as it did on Nov. 1 and Oct. 2 and Aug. 15. And it will look the exact same way it does now on Dec. 25. I just didn't see the point in pulling out our decorations this year. I don't even have enough Christmas spirit to compose my yearly rant against inflatable lawn ornaments. I assure you I still hate them.
It wasn't until yesterday when a coworker presented me with a stack of letters that my Christmas spirit started bubbling up. Every year one of the attorneys in my office organizes a Letters to Santa program sponsored by the Chicago Tribune. Children in less privileged parts of the city write letters to "Santa's Helpers" asking for presents. The children go to schools that are 100 percent free lunch and "serve breakfast, lunch and dinner to ensure that (the students) receive three hot meals a day." Over a quarter of the students are wards of the state and over a quarter are being raised by grandparents. These kids live in my city, but far from the only Chicago I've ever known.
As I was handed the stack of letters asking for toys, clothes and school supplies, I didn't know how to choose. I wanted to buy something for each of them. And then I came across a letter from a 10-year-old boy who had clearly put some effort into writing his very legible letter. In it he said:
My favorite sport is basketball. I like basketball because you can have fun. You don't have to worry about getting hurt and you can be a star player. My favorite dish is tacos because you can have all the topping you want like Ranch dressing, sause, salad, cheese and it's very good.
I like Christmas because you can give more to people and you can see parts of your family that you haven't seen in a while.
Thank you very much for reading my letter. I hope you enjoy it. I hope you have a great Christmas.So this afternoon I took my lunch hour and bought him a basketball. I wanted to buy him more but was restricted to a $25 limit. I can safely say that buying this boy I don't even know one present will probably be the highlight of my Christmas season. Then again, my Christmas shoot didn't end up being a total bust, so I guess my Christmas spirit is slowly emerging. It's just taking a little longer than usual this year.