More Carbon and the Spirit of the Season.

The other day, during a brief lull in my research on extremely frivolous and expensive carbon handlebars and how they can make me not a bit faster or better suited to this sport, I was reminded of how fortunate my family and I are.
I was reminded how close to the edge some kids are forced to live, because of circumstances completely out of their control. Kids who rely on subsidized school breakfasts and lunches for most of their daily nutritional needs, because the cupboards at home are bare. Kids that are wondering what they're going to eat during Christmas break when school isn't there to feed them.
I can get pretty hard-hearted with adults, who have the legal power to determine their destinies to a degree. They can get a job or register for aid or do any number of things to put food on the table. It's far from perfect, but there are options out there.  On the other hand, kids are completely dependent on others to provide.
I learned through hard experience you can't save them all. There's just too many of them, and your resources only stretch so far. My first priority is to make sure my own little tribe is provided for, and besides, some self-centered douchebag has to buy all of those carbon handlebars. I am just that douchebag.
However, during the last week of school, we were shopping for groceries when my wife received a text message with a picture of a grocery list scribbled out in the uneven handwriting of a middle school child. This child had gone to his teacher, a friend of ours at the school my wife helped found, in tears because he wasn't sure what he would be eating for the next couple weeks.
We filled another basket, editing the list to ensure the kids wouldn't be eating a well-balanced diet of high-fructose corn syrup and potato chips. It wasn't the most organic grocery cart in the store, but it was a lot of staples that could be easily cooked and stretched and ensure they didn't go hungry. Other teachers and friends chipped in on the bill, because they're good people.
I don't know the kid or his particular situation. I don't want to, because it would just make me angry and frustrated and all the usual emotions when confronted with a situation that I can't fix. All I want to know is that maybe he'll have one less worry this holiday season. Life is stressful enough. Kids don't need that.
I'll think of this kid that I don't know while I open the gifts of carbon from my children, purchased using my Amazon or eBay accounts ("Gee, how did they know?"). I'll think about him as my kids open their dinosaur toys or iPad or bikes or whatever else they thought they couldn't live without. I'll think of him as we sit down to eat a large meal in a warm house. I hope my own children never know the same worries this kid has. 
I hope he comes back to the school after the holidays healthy and ready to build a foundation that will hopefully ensure a brighter future. I hope he returns with the belief that the world isn't always a dark place full of fear and uncertainty, that there are people out there that care. I hope he returns with hope, because I can't think of a better gift we could have filled that basket with. scratch that. Carbon handlebars. Carbon handlebars are pretty darn sweet too.

It took me a few versions of this to get something close to what I intended. It still isn't right.
Let me make a couple things clear. First, if my wife hadn't told me we would do this, I wouldn't have. She's the better person here. Her first instinct is to reach out and help. My first instinct is to circle the wagons. 
I'd like to say it's because she's from a different culture, an Alaskan Native world that is more community-oriented than the one I was raised in. That's not really it. My parents, the folks that raised me, rural, Hillary-Hating/Trump-voting people, are far more compassionate and caring than I could ever hope to be. They opened and help run a food bank in the church across the street from the family farm after the economic downturn. The fact is that I'm surrounded on all sides by people that plain out-human me.
I'm a ego-centric, fucktard douchebag, and don't you forget it.


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