“Pink and Blue Paper Angels”
I received an email from our religious educator, inviting the high school students to participate in the Thanksgiving Food Drive on either week- end of November 12th or 19th, after one of the masses. I volunteered along with my sixteen- year-old son. I picked the 12:00 mass, which was the last day and the last mass. My son was among many of the high school students that (he halfheartedly) volunteered.
Earlier, that week: I asked my forty-year-old- daughter if my fifteen-year-old grandson were participating; as this is most important, and would inject our children with the true purpose of the season, in giving! However, I heard in the tone of her voice that she didn’t like my opinion as part of the question, and she answered me rather quickly, “I haven’t been on my computer for some time, and must have missed the email.” I didn’t say anything further, knowing from past experiences, not to ‘push’ either of my children with religion - instead, bring it into their lives delicately; and as a privilege to participate actively in the mysteries of the Gospel. As, I’m learning that keeping teenagers involved or interested isn’t always an easy thing to do, and sometimes even harder, the older they get!
Getting back to our appointed 12:00 service: Right after receiving communion, while the mass continued, (approximately fifteen minutes ahead of time) the teens went straight to the narthex and stood at each doorway and gathered the food or collected cash donations. I remained inside the Church with the others, and silently gave thanks that my son was gracious, and obedient as my daughter’s family as well.
After the mass was over; while my son was waiting for everyone else to pass through the doors, I browsed around the narthex and noticed the Advent tree. There were a few tables around it with poster- size sheets that were written on blue paper for the boys, and pink paper for the girls; and each with a name and a Christmas list of the gift that the child had wished for. I picked the child ‘Jose’ that immediately shone out to me, as it is my son’s name in Spanish class. Not only did the name touch me, but Jose’ wish list on a blue paper angel filled my heart with so much more to be grateful:
Jose’ 16 - Male
Shirt- boys 18/20
Pants- boys 18/20 or
Men- 30 X 29
Clothing! My son is sixteen-years-old, and the last thing on his wish list is clothing. I guess that he just assumes that these things are a given part of his life (as most) because they come so freely and easily from parents. While, my heart's attention is with another sixteen-year-old, wishing graciously of having clothing, as a gift.
I was dazed and in a stance of grace, waiting for my son to finish collecting. Meanwhile, the woman, who gave me the envelope with Jose’s wish list, handed me a matching blue paper angel to put our family’s name on it, to put on the Advent tree. However, more with tears of joy, I waited for my son to do this; while delicately paving another way to the light, once more, in the action of giving.
Everyone left the Church. My son came up to me and handed me the basket with the cash donations to give to the monsignor, as he proceeded to finish carrying the bags of groceries to the rear of the Church.
He came back to the narthex and asked, “Mom, are we all done now?” I said, “no, not yet!” I showed him the blue paper angel with Jose’ on it, and told him that I waited for him to put the matching blue paper angel, with our name on it, on the Advent tree. He smiled and said, “Okay, mom.” As we approached the tree with so many pink and blue paper angels on it, I noticed my sons face to light up! In the exact location that he pinned ours to the tree was a pink paper angel who stood out the most with my daughter’s family name on it. I didn’t query my daughter in our past conversations, if my teenage grandson was going to help out; but it was written in code for me on the pink paper angel! My grandson had attended the 10:30 service, and the family participated and left before we got there.
I called my daughter when we got home and told the story of her pink paper angel, and how it stood out the most! She said, “Mom, there were four more angels with our names on them, each of us picked a child to sponsor.”
Watching my teenage son and grandson, and my forty-year-old daughter’s family, ‘practicing’ the true meaning of Thanksgiving is what I’m most grateful for in my life. I feel that I will rest in peace when I depart from this life, regardless of how I might seemingly annoy them (at times) of the greatest importance of giving. With hope, they will always be the pink and blue paper angels in one another’s life.
As they’ve been doing all along…!
Happy Thanksgiving! :-)
Causes Catherine Nagle Supports
Westwind Foster Family Agency, Christian Children's Fund, Compassion International, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Invisible Children, Save the Children