It’s that time of year again! Stores are filled with fake trees and baubles and candy. There’s ad after ad of children playing with the newest toys and men having a blast with the newest tool accessory. Nothing says man like a new tool set! There are ads for jewelry and clothes; because that is all women want to receive from their loved ones. There are traditions to keep alive like Elf on the Shelf, cookie baking, and Christmas carols. This is a time for family and happiness. You know, holiday cheer?
Then why do I, every year with out fail, feel something entirely different? I don’t know what it is, I have a great family that I love spending time with. I am usually pretty happy on the actual day of Christmas, but I am always Eeyore on the lead up to it.
I don’t know if it’s that I spend too much money on frivolous things or if it’s a weird thing about my lack of parents. I do have parents, but they are just not around. I have plenty of sisters though, five in total, so I don’t feel alone. Maybe it’s that Christmas is so exclusive. People who are not Christian have to suffer through these weeks of Christmas being pushed into their faces. I have Jewish friends who shop in Target and have half of a shelf to shop from; then you look around and the rest of the store is filled with Christmas stuff. Yes, I know. America has more Christians than any other religion. I get that. I do. It doesn’t take away from people feeling left out.
My friend is an immigrant from Somalia and her child is now 4. She has no idea what Santa Clause is or why he would visit our houses in the night, but it is talked about every day at school. She goes home every night and cries, because she doesn’t get to do any of the things the other kids do. My friend feels terrible and would like her daughter to feel included, but she can’t. Many other kids like Shaima feel the same way.
My aunt lost her son in a tragic car accident a few years ago. Christmas and Thanksgiving are terrible for her and my cousin. It’s a reminder of the person they lost and a bitter remembrance of traditions of the past. There are many families that deal with loss during the holidays. There are families that are dealing with disease and sickness and their loved one being stuck at a hospital. There are military families who are missing their child, their sister, their father.
Then there are families who feel the stress and burden of the holidays, because they don’t make enough money to buy their kids toys, a Christmas tree, a fancy Christmas dinner and any other holiday “tradition”. They worry that their kids will go to school and say, “Santa Clause brought me this coloring book and new crayons!” Then some other kids will say, “Santa Clause brought me a new iPad!” What might the kid with the coloring book feel about that? I can tell you from experience: that kid will not feel good. That kid will feel like they did something wrong. Maybe they were somehow on the naughty list. Maybe Santa hates that kid. Later that kid will learn; Nope, we are just poor.
I feel like a terrible wretch feeling this way when I am non-religious and can spend this time celebrating a religious holiday any way I want. I have a huge, loving family and here I am complaining about my feelings when there are people out there who have it way worse. I guess that’s my point; people have it way worse and I can’t stop thinking about it around this time every year.
A couple years ago, I started donating to local food shelf services for families to have a nice dinner and to places like We Can for families to have more support. I try to donate to Toys For Tots and I donate winter clothes like mittens and hats for children. I will admit; I do this for selfish reasons. I don’t feel as bad when I sit down with my sisters for dinner and exchange gifts. I feel better knowing I did at least something to help those with less feel more.
I’m not trying to make you feel bad for enjoying your holidays. I just wanted to write something personal for my last blog and this is always on my mind this time of year. If you want to donate to any charities this year, that would be cool. If you want to ignore all of the world’s problems and engulf yourself in holiday cheer, that’s cool as well.
I hope you guys have a great winter break. To those of you graduating; Congratulations! To the rest of you, maybe I’ll see you around!