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Making the most of a ‘Bad Situation’

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“Globe Santa has really contributed to making my daughter happy, which is my goal.”

“I am proud to say I have taken the huge step of starting a new life,” a mother wrote Globe Santa recently. “I left a Bad Situation.”

  • Globe Santa steps in when illness strikes a family

Bad Situations. They come in many guises. But making them more bearable is at the heart of the Globe Santa program. They include illness, divorce, job loss, a loved one’s death, rent increases, homelessness, injuries, accidents, domestic violence, trauma, eviction, the impact of COVID-19, incarceration, floods, fires, depression, and even being forced to flee a violent homeland.

But this season, one man wrote Globe Santa with a different kind of story.

“I am a self-employed musician,” began the letter from a 63-year-old father of a 7-year-old girl. “I have been facing financial and personal hardship and have needed help since August of 2019.”

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Prior to that he’d had a vibrant career as a drummer, guitarist, singer, songwriter, composer, and teacher. A Boston University graduate living in a high-end Zip code, his genres are pop, rock, funk, and blues, and he was playing four to six gigs a week in a variety of venues, including clubs, libraries, and a church, as well as private events. He had a roster of 35 music students. He performed for children’s concerts, singing classic and original kids’ songs, and he’d recorded two albums.

“Since 2002 I’ve made a living as a full-time musician,” he said. “I paid all my bills.”

But his home life started deteriorating, he wrote, due to “bizarre, dangerous and abusive” behavior on the part of his now ex-wife. About five years ago, he was awarded custody of their daughter, who’s now 7. His ability to teach and perform was severely affected. His expenses shot up because of lawyers’ fees and babysitting costs for times when he performed; he has no family members in Massachusetts to help out.

Then COVID-19 happened, and after March 2020, all of his live performance dates and teaching were cancelled.

“My career had pretty well been decimated,” he said. “It cut me off at the knees. The only teaching I could do was on Zoom.”

Slowly, though, his work has come back. “I am cultivating additional child care. Students are wanting lessons and I’m adding them to my roster. … It’s just patience and persistence,” he said, “and being thankful for the things that are good.”

One of these things is Globe Santa, and he was eager to speak about the program. What he wanted to convey is how his experience has taught him that people of every background, in every demographic, are as vulnerable to misfortune as anyone else, even if they started out with a surfeit of good fortune.

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This is the third year he’s asked Globe Santa for help, and he wants to support its mission. “Globe Santa has really contributed to making my daughter happy, which is my goal,” he said. “In the past, they’ve sent wonderful games, books and toys, largely on target in term of age appropriateness. Some of the games we play to this day. She’s been really appreciative.”

He added, “Plus, a kid likes to see a bunch of packages wrapped.”

It’s not easy to ask for help, he acknowledged. “It’s something that makes you sad. I definitely felt bad. I don’t want to use the word ‘inadequate,’ but there is a little bit of shame and sadness that all of a sudden, I can’t be the proud provider that I always had been.”

Fortunately, “my daughter is a happy child,” he said, “and though I would like to be out playing more and making more money, you have to do the right thing. I’m on Daddy duty.”

Because he’s stretched so thin, he hasn’t been able to finish many songs lately, “though bits are jumping around in my head, like, daily.” But there’s one he’s working on that he most definitely intends to finish.

“It’s meant for folks like Globe Santa, and friends, and the social worker and benevolent organizations who have helped me out,” he said.

It’s called “The Luckiest Man in the World.”

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Linda Matchan can be reached at [email protected]

For 68 years Globe Santa, a program of the Boston Globe Foundation, has provided gifts to children in need at holiday time. Please consider giving by phone, mail, or online at globesanta.org.

Source: Boston Globe

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