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Globe Santa

Grandparents raising 2 happy girls, but struggle with extras

By Christopher Tangney
Globe Correspondent / December 4, 2011
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For many grandparents, spending time with their grandchildren is a special occasion reserved for shopping, ballgames, ice cream or hot chocolate (depending on the season), laughter, and the obligatory tales that start with, “When I was your age.’’

But for a couple who wrote to Globe Santa this year on behalf of their granddaughters, things are different. They are faced with the task of raising two young girls while trying to make sense of what they might have done differently to help their own daughter.

“We have custody of our daughter’s beautiful girls because she wasn’t fit to care for them,’’ the grandmother wrote. “They are 7 and 4 years old and have more energy than we can keep up with sometimes, but we’re doing the best we can.’’

The grandparents are both retired, living on a fixed income, relying on Social Security and limited savings to pay rent and utility bills, buy groceries, and occasionally splurge on new clothes for the children. They have not seen or heard from the girls’ mother in several months, but she has long struggled with substance abuse, the grandmother said in her letter, and the couple took custody of the two girls about a year ago to prevent them from being placed in foster care.

“It has broken our hearts to see what our daughter has gone through and we worry about her all the time, but it’s important for the girls to be in a happy home so I try and stay cheerful,’’ she wrote. “It would mean so much for them to have a Merry Christmas because the last year has been terrible, but we can’t afford a thing and I’ve been dreading the thought of what I’ll have to say.’’

Despite the sorrow and confusion that come from wondering why their mother is not with them, both girls have adjusted as well as can be expected, their grandmother wrote. The oldest is in second grade and does well in school, and her younger sister cannot wait to follow suit. They are active, their grandmother wrote, and enjoy jumping rope, playing sports and games, dancing, and listening to music, but like many of today’s younger generation, they are also quite enamored with electronics.

“Anything you could do to help us give the girls a special Christmas, we will be grateful,’’ she wrote. “They are wonderful children.’’

This family will be among thousands to get a visit from Globe Santa this year thanks to the generosity of individuals, groups, and local businesses that donate to the fund drive. Because so many people like knowing they helped make a child happy at Christmas, some 30,000 families will share in the wonder of the holiday rather than struggling though a difficult day.

Globe Santa has delivered toys, books, games, and candy to families like this one that celebrate Christmas in the Santa Claus tradition but cannot afford presents for their children. Last year, $1,413,668 was raised and 56,190 children across Greater Boston and Eastern Massachusetts discovered presents from Globe Santa under their tree.

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