Our school has done an amazing job collecting donations for a number of our most in-need families this Christmas season. It was quite a wonderful, rewarding experience for everyone involved. The generosity of the staff and some local businesses overwhelmed the parents who we supported this holiday season. If I had to speculate, I would guess that this Christmas will be one of the best Christmas’ most of these children will have (or have ever had). While I totally understand that gifts aren’t everything, but when you are a child and you never get anything on your “wish list” it can be somewhat disheartening.
Christmas for me, as a child, was often disappointing and alienating for me. It was alienating because my friends would all talk about all the fabulous gifts they got – name-brand this, electronic that, etc… I dreaded going back to school after the Christmas break because inevitably, the first question after Christmas was always, “What did you get?” That question still bothers me today, but as an adult I am much more comfortable talking about what Christmas really means to me when people ask this question. As a child, though, it was always a difficult situation. I hated listening to what everyone else got. I was so jealous of their excitement.
One may wonder however, while we know that being “spoiled” and receiving a lot of gifts at Christmas-time, may take away from the spirit of Christmas. Excess is not good. It always teaches the wrong message, if you ask me. What about for children who do not usually receive much at Christmas (or any other time of year, for that matter)? Can one really overdo it with those children? I ask this because I am thinking about all that our families will receive this year because of the wonderful people who sacrificed things for themselves and their own families, to get presents and food for them. What is too much for these families? Is there any such thing as “too much” for families-in-need? One may ask, “How will their families measure up in Christmases that follow?” One may also argue, “There are so many children who are in need, perhaps these gifts should be spread thinner to help more families.”
All of these points have value and I understand from where these thoughts may come.
I would argue though, that it is very difficult to do too much for families who are really in need, especially around this time of year.
Most of what was given to these families was not “wants” but the very basic “needs” for the season – winter boots, winter jackets, toques, scarves, gloves, shirts, pants, sweaters, underwear, and socks. These are not frivolous by any stretch of your imagination. These are necessities that most of us take for granted. Not these families. These are luxuries, unfortunately. New clothes – not from a second-hand store (not that there is anything wrong with that, but sometimes it is nice to be the first one to wear something) just can not be afforded by many of these families.
So, what about those “want” items. You know, those things that we all ask for at Christmas (or our birthdays, or any other special occasion) that we just don’t really need. Do these children really need to get these “want” items, or should any money spent on these items be spent instead to buy other children the “needed” items? Being from a family that did not have much growing up, and often relied on small hampers at Christmas, I know just how important those “want” items are for people – not only children. Don’t we all deserve to get something that we just “want” once in a while? Do children from poorer families lose that luxury just because of their family of origin? Don’t they too deserve to get something they “want” every once in a while? I would argue that they do deserve it. Everyone does, once in a while.
So, how will the parents of our students “measure up” in subsequent Christmases? I don’t think that really matters. The children will be appreciative of the Christmas they have this year. They will, for once, not be disappointed with Christmas. They will, for once, not dread the question, “What did you get?” that comes for weeks after the big day. They will, for once, have their wishes come true. What is so wrong with that?
There is nothing wrong with them being “spoiled” this year (especially since their “spoiled” consists mostly of the basics we all take for granted). Will they have another Christmas like this next year or in the years following? Probably not. But, it is better to have had this experience this year, to look back on fondly, to remember the Christmas that was. To remember the joy. To remember the look on their parent(s) face(s) when they were opening their gifts. It doesn’t matter who provided the gifts, the parents are the ones giving the gifts to their children. What a great feeling this will be for them as well – to be able to provide your children with things you would never dream of providing them? How wonderful is that?
I am so grateful to the local businesses, to some individual families, and to our staff for really supporting our families who are most in need.
This Christmas is going to be one that these families will never forget. Never. Believe me. It will be special. Very, very special. For years to come. I speak from experience.
Please don’t question whether or not these children should be “spoiled” at Christmas. All children should be “spoiled” once in a while. Keep in mind that there are many definitions of “spoiled”. What these families may consider an amazing Christmas, like no other, may be what you consider to be just barely getting your basic needs met.
I can’t wait to hear the stories from these children when they return to school after the winter break. I just wish I could be a fly on the wall watching as they open their gifts on Christmas morning. How exciting!
So, in answer to my blog title question, I would say, yes, sometimes “wants” are necessary.
What do you think?