12.15.2007

Christmas Letter to America

Yes, Christmas time is here again and the spirit of giving is in the air. The spirit of whining and asking for stuff is in the air too – and I am not talking about the children who don’t know any better. I am talking about adults who seem to feel that they are deserving of charity. It is to those people I address this letter.

Dear America in December,

If you are reading this you are not poor. You clearly have, not only the ability to read, but also a computer (or computer access.) Are you living from paycheck to paycheck? Congratulations! You are certainly not alone. Lots of people are out there busting their butts just to get by. Rather than making you needy, it means you have a work ethic. It also means you are blessed to have a job. You are not poor.

Do your kids want video games for Christmas? Congratulations! You have a home with electricity and a television. You are not poor.

Are you sad because there are no presents under your tree? Congratulations! You are wealthy enough to have a tree and a home to put it in! Yes, I said wealthy. Many people do not have the luxury of something so frivolous as a Christmas tree; many do not have a home to put one in.

Are your children disappointed because there will be only few, or no presents? Congratulations! You have the opportunity to teach your children that Christmas is not about the presents. Remind yourself of this also, and drop the “I’m a failure” because of it. I understand that as parents we want to give our children everything and to protect them from all hurt or harm. But neither of those things are possible. Our children will, and need to, experience disappointment and pain in order to understand the blessings life does offer them.

Christmas is a Christian holiday originally designed to celebrate the birth of Christ. Granted it has also become a secular “holiday” in that it is celebrated by many who are not Christian. But even a secular Christmas is about more than the presents. It is about traditions: the foods, the gatherings, the songs …the whole shebang. Presents are only ONE SINGLE ASPECT of Christmas, so why put so much importance on them? I wish we could just do away with the whole make a “Christmas list” of things we want and instead, make lists of the many many things we are grateful to have.

I am sorry if your son will not get a Wii; your tree will not be skirted by presents; your Christmas bonus was cut; you haven’t had a vacation in forever or you cannot afford a huge Christmas dinner. Things are rough all over. In case you haven’t noticed our country is at war and the economy sucks. The housing market is crashing; groceries are skyrocketing, and a minimum wage worker must use an entire day’s pay just to fill up his or her car with gas.

On Christmas morning consider gathering your family together and going to a homeless center to serve Christmas dinner; or to help do the laundry from so many people having slept there seeking shelter from the cold; or to play with the children who don’t have friends. Replace the time spent opening presents with time spent talking about how blessed you are.
Tell your family members you love them and celebrate as you can – not as you wish you could. Before you sign yourself up for the angel tree or charity list please ask yourself, “Am I really that poor?”

If you are reading this, then you are not.

Sincerely,

Yellow Dog

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Having limitations on your lifestyle is NOT the same as being poor.