Thursday, November 17, 2005

Christmas Is For Kids And ...

Today, my mom went to her church to help set up a Christmas tree.

It's not too early for Christmas trees. Stores had them up in September. But this particular tree is decorated with the names of children, children who might not have a Christmas (yes, in the commerical sense of the word) if not for the kindness of strangers.

Each ornament holds the name of a child and something they want for the holidays. I'm familiar with the concept. When I worked for Jeff Zaslow at the Chicago Sun-Times, he started a Santa letter program. (Jeff was always using the column to make the world a better place in small, meaningful ways.) He'd collect letters to Santa from the post office and match them with readers who were willing to make children's holidays a bit brighter.

So mom was talking about what some of the kids on the tree want for Christmas. Some want mittens or a warm coat. (When I worked for Jeff, we were always stunned by the letters from youngsters who asked for nothing themselves, but instead asked that their younger brother or sister get the items on their list.) Some kids, mom said, asked for video games.

A video game is extravagance, right? But, as I said to mom, that's what these kids should be asking for. That's what all their friends will be getting. Why should they be disappointed? Why should Christmas be a reminder of all they can't afford? If only for one day, they should feel as lucky, their eyes should grow wide with something they hoped for, but never really expected.

As Thanksgiving nears and we take stock of all we have to be grateful for, my thoughts can't help but wander to those who have so much less. Why, as Doreen relayed to me today, she saw a homeless man counting pennies out of his cup to buy a banana.

Play Secret Santa to a child this year. Or to an adult (ask at your church or community center for the name of a family who could use your kindness this season). Buy your Christmas cards from the Greater Chicago Food Depository or Unicef. Invite a single friend to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Take a trinket to someone in a nursing home and, more importantly, give them some of your time.

This season, spend a lot of love.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christmas is supposed to be about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. The meaning is in the name. Not about poor kids born to lazy parents who can't get a job and can't afford to buy their illegitamate kids an Xbox, playstation, or a cell phone to make drug deals with.

5:40 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Wow. This scares the hell out of me.
Every person in the world who's fallen on hard times isn't a drug dealer or welfare mooch. If Christmas is about Christ, how about a little love and sympathy? Wouldn't Christ want that? I'm pretty sure his message was one of love, not hostility, toward his fellow men.
Yes, there are unsavory sorts in the world, but let's take a larger view and assess why they've turned to the life they're living.
I don't believe anyone blithely chooses that life. Circumstances play a huge role. And they, most likely, didn't create the circumstances.

9:04 AM  

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