By Tanya Glover
With the holiday season upon us there have been some things weighing heavy on my heart that I wanted to share with my readers. If we are lucky, we know that the holidays are something that is shared with the three F’s: Family, Friends and Food. I do not know what is typical for all families, only my own, so we will begin there.
Our family is quite large and diverse so our celebrations begin before the big days even arrive. On Saturday December 17th we had my mother-in-laws Christmas celebration. Here we all gathered (all 20 of us) and ate turkey, ham, dressing, sweet potato casserole and enjoyed a huge spread of deserts. We exchanged Christmas gifts and watched all of our children glow as they beheld the magic of Christmas. (They all glow when presents are involved.) On Sunday December 16th we gathered once again to celebrate the Christmas holiday with my father-in-law. (Again, all 20 of us.) We ate the same foods and opened more presents and again, watched our children being happy and healthy. Next we have a celebration on Tuesday the 20th for the first night of Hanukkah. We will eat beef brisket, blintzes and lakatas and applesauce. My youngest son will light the candles on this first night, as per tradition and the Menorah will glow for another year. (This is the first and only Menorah I have ever used and has been a fixture in my life since the day I was born.) After the candles are lit I will read my children the story of Hanukkah and once again, there will be presents. Finally, on December 25th we will have our biggest celebration of all. The night before I will stay up very late wrapping gifts from Santa. We will rise at 6am when our boys wake up and realize that Santa has come. My parents and my sister-in-law (who I am also lucky enough to call my best friend) and her family will arrive to watch the children open their presents. As we are opening gifts another of my best and oldest friends will be in my kitchen making homemade chipped beef for all of us to eat after we are finished opening the piles of presents. Once we are all stuffed from breakfast and tired from the joy of the morning, it is time to make Christmas dinner. Once again we will feast on all different holiday foods and our children will be happy and content. You may be asking yourself where I am going with this, but trust me, I do have a point.
Life, Love and Happiness
From what you can tell from the above passage, I am a very lucky person. I have many holiday celebrations to look forward to. I have a large family to share the holidays with. We always have big feasts of wonderful food. Our children have more presents than they know what to do with and they have enough food to keep them full and happy and healthy. Even though I cannot give them everything they asked for in their Santa letters, they want for nothing and are loved by all their family and friends. If my husband and I found ourselves unable to buy them their holiday gifts they still would not go without as our family would do whatever they had to in order to provide for our children and we would do the same for them. So my point is, that of all the families in the world, ours has very little to complain about. Because we are so lucky, it weighs on my heart that there are many who are not. The purpose of my blogs is usually to give advice on how to overcome certain mental health disorders and educate about all things dealing with psychology. But, because of the time of year and my own realization of just how good my children have it, I wanted to write on the human condition and the spirit of the season that should move us all. There are children, who upon waking up on Christmas morning, find that Santa did not visit their house. There are children who do not get turkey and dressing. There are no pies and cakes for many children, and for the most unfortunate ones, there is no heat or warm clothing either. There are boys and girls who must celebrate the holidays in orphanages. There are those who will only get to see their mommy or daddy over a Skype call because they are in a foreign land fighting for our country. There are children and parents who must celebrate the holidays without their loved ones due to separation by the miles of by the separation of worlds. These are the things that my heart aches about all year long, but especially during the time of year when families are supposed to be surrounded by the warmth and love of each other.
Suffer not the Little Children
Knowing all of these heartbreaking things, it is hard not to think of all the good we have in our lives. What we should be thinking about though, is what good we can do in the lives of others. I am a firm believer that if you are lucky enough to be able to give to your children and to keep them fed and full that you should do whatever you can to help people who are not that lucky. It can be difficult to give and this I know from experience. Maybe you think that the adult who cannot give to their children are unable to do so because they will not work or they are drug addicts or that they are just bad parents. And maybe you are hesitant to give because of these thoughts. I felt this way long ago – before I had children of my own. I was of the mind that if a parent was unable to care for their children properly that they were most likely unfit parents. I used to think that if I gave to a family who was poor or homeless that the chance of my charity going to the children was very slim; that the parents would use what I gave them to buy their substance of choice. After growing as a person and becoming educated in real life, I no longer feel this way. I came to the realization that if a parent cannot afford to buy their child Christmas presents that it did not mean that they were bad parents. I realized that if a family cannot afford to keep healthy food on the table it did not mean that they were negligent or uncaring. I learned this because I have felt the impact of the lean years myself now that I am responsible for two other lives. Of all that I have come to realize, I think that the most important is that no matter the reasons that these children do not have food or presents on the holidays that it is not their fault. The children should not be the ones suffering due to the mistakes of the parents. The children should not be the ones suffering because the economy is in a depression. We all have a different view on what the holidays are about and the majority opinion is that Christmas is not about getting presents. While this is true, a huge part of the excitement of Christmas for little ones is the expectation of Santa’s arrival. No child should have to wake up on Christmas morning to find that Santa did not come. No child should have to long for a hot meal when food is so plentiful. So, overall, I have learned that the reason a child has no present or meal for the holidays matters not. What matters is that they deserve to have these things. The lesson here is suffer not the little children and it is quite fitting for the holiday season.
In the End….
the love you take is equal to the love you make. Think about all of these things this holiday season – I know that I will. As I clean out my son’s bedrooms tomorrow, I will keep in mind that they toys I am getting rid of in order to make room for the new Christmas gifts they will get next weekend would make the holidays special for a child who may not be getting any other gifts. If you think that you do not know such a child then I challenge you to find one. However, I think you would probably be surprised to know that such a child may be no further then next door. When you are shopping for the ingredients to make your holiday feast, keep in mind that there is likely a family that you already know who will not be having anything to eat on Christmas. Give yourself a gift by inviting someone less fortunate than yourself to enjoy your holiday meal with you. If you are one of the lucky ones, like me, then I urge you to share your good fortune, if only on Christmas. Making a child smile and knowing that for at least one day their stomach will not be empty is a gift that you will never regret giving. Watch out though; giving can be highly contagious and you may be compelled to do so all year long.