On Thursday when I wrote my Thanksgiving piece I included the story of four children being raised by their selfless grandmother, but as it was at the bottom of that piece, I did not want it to get lost to the tryptophan and busy week ahead. In a world where so much attention is given to the most horrid of humans among us, people like this grandmother get lost in the shuffle.
I have been listening a lot to the first Tony winning musical by Lin Manual Miranda, In The Heights (yes, he had amazing musical life before Hamilton), and this song pulls at my heart every time. Alabanza, about the neighborhood abuela (grandmother) who passed away - a woman who, well, here are the most profound lyrics:
Abuela Claudia had simple pleasures
She sang the praises of things we ignore
Glass Coke bottles, bread crumbs, a sky full of stars
She cherished these things
She'd say "Alabanza"
Alabanza means to raise this thing to God's face and to sing Quite literally "praise to this"
Your choice of faith, religion, a pull towards love and light rather than orthodoxy, matters not - we are all capable of Alabanza. We are all capable of lifting something, someone up and singing their praises. This abuela is one of those people. This grandmother is exactly who we need to highlight, raise up, be thankful for, and emulate.
I know you’ll redact as necessary, but here is the long/short version of <name redacted's> story:
<----> has had her four grandchildren for most of their lives. J is 13 and came to live with his grandma when he was fairly young; S is 8 and has been with her grandma most of her life as well; Gramma’s house is the only home A, now 5, had known. R will be 3 in January and came to live with his grandma not long after he turned 2. Their mom has a history of mental health problems and is estranged from <----->. There was never a formal arrangement made, and <------> has been supporting these kiddos without any help from the state other than medical and daycare for the kids.
In the spring of this year, <------>’s daughter somehow convinced a judge that she should have custody of her kids. This judge, with whatever lack of good judgment (no pun intended), decided that not only should she have her kids back, but that she should stay in <------>’s apartment with the kids, and <------> should pay the rent and utilities for her as well as move out, leaving everything but her clothing.
Needless to say, everyone that cares about her and her grandchildren were flabbergasted. <------> was able to convince a different judge to return control of her apartment to her, but the daughter took the kids and left. This was early spring.
The children were returned to <------> by Child Protective Services in September when they were found living in “the jungle”—a homeless encampment in Seattle that has been constantly in the news due to the high incidence of crime—murders, drugs…
The children were in horrible shape physically—dirty, scared. A even had an untreated broken arm. These kids have seen things that would make adults have nightmares. <------> has missed more work than she has been here, as the kids have needed a lot of attention. Our employer allows staff to share their sick leave in some cases, but because the kids have been officially placed with <------> as a foster parent, she is not allowed to apply for shared leave. She is not able to receive federal food assistance, either.
Needless to say, this family could use all the help they can get. If this family could be helped with a few small items for the kids, I’m sure it would brighten the holidays for them, and ease <------>’s mind. I’ll get a few gift ideas as well as clothing sizes to you as soon as possible.
DGMS Family Member
I spent time this past weekend elfing for the children and will continue today. We are also anticipating another family joining the sleigh this week as well - more details as they are provided to me.
Your donations are being made to beg for mercy through endless searching for the best prices, coupons, free shipping, and imagination! Example - OldNavy.com on Black Friday - I was able to get warm clothing for all four children, 40% off everything, free shipping, tax included, for only $93. AND I earned $50 in Old Navy bucks to begin using for more elfing tomorrow!
Do we have room for more in Santa's sleigh? That is completely up to you! Spread the word!