Santa Claus is Coming

Mother Teresa once said that it was easy to love the people far away but no so easy to love those close to us. That was undoubtedly the understatement of the day. We know too much about the people we are in contact with every day. We know their shortcomings. In this season of giving, the Salvation Army tells us that, for the first time, all their angels have been adopted. For those of you, not in the know, an ‘angel’ is a needy child known by the Salvation Army who has put a gift wish on a tree for someone to come and purchase. An individual then purchases the item and returns it to the sponsoring business who, in turn, give it to the Salvation Army to deliver to the child. We know the toughness of this economy and the fact that many are struggling to provide basic necessities so we feel impressed to give to their children so that they may have a good Christmas season.

If we knew that Dad took the boys every Saturday and went fishing we would probably complain that Dad’s time might be better spent in getting a second job or working harder to replace a lost job. Or we might know that Mom smokes cigarettes daily. We would be tempted to complain that Mom should stop smoking and take that money for necessities. There is a certain amount of truth in both of those complaints we would have. We might think we are justified in feeling sorry for the kids having been dealt such low-lifes for parents. If we felt that way, though, the giving of the gifts might be more of a ‘take that you lousy parents’ statement that would take away the joy we feel in giving to those in need.

I might suggest that we look a little more closely at the situation. When you look back at your own childhood, what memory gives you the most pleasure? The gift you received for Christmas when you were 8-years-old or the times you spent playing basketball with your dad in the driveway? Maybe, in doing what he does, the father of these children is giving them a truly important gift that only he can give. You do the right thing by giving them the gift that puts a sparkle in their eye this Christmas and let Dad give the more important gift.   When it comes to Mom’s habit, I admit that if she gave it up she would improve both her health and her family’s health and giving it up would free up some much needed cash. Looking more closely at Mom’s life, you might realize that every day she deals with the shut-off notices that come in the mail, the worry about whether or not she can buy milk and bread for the week, the concerns over where she will get the money to purchase clothes for growing children, how they are going to get to work if they can’t pay the car payment and the car gets repossessed. All these things are forever running through her mind. Giving up cigarettes isn’t going to cover all of those expenses and besides, her ability to have those cigarettes in the house just tells her that they are not totally destitute yet. The purchase of those cigarettes reinforces for her that they haven’t hit rock bottom. A mom who is able to calm some of her financial fears and, in doing so, acquire some semblance of mental health is better able to provide for the emotional needs of her family. Maybe it’s a toss-up = physical health vs. mental health = but you don’t live there so you can’t really say which is the better route to go. Let Mom keep her mental health and you see to it that Santa arrives this year.

Mother Teresa was right. Loving them when you know them is not always easy. Do it anyway.

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