We are officially in the crazy time of the year at Hope House. It all starts with Back-to-School in August, Christmas sign-ups in October and holiday closings and needs from here on to the New Year! Our waiting room is FULL every day with busyness and warmth, Seahawk pride, plans for Halloween and lots of beautiful children. We turn on the heat, break out the pumpkin decorations and hand out gloves and hats as fast as we get them. I love this time of year, both at home with my family and here at Hope House with this family.
My challenge in all of this is always juggling the joy of the holidays, particularly Christmas, and the stress of the added work that our Christmas Program brings. Sometimes I get cranky dealing with people who appear in July asking for Christmas presents or show up on October 1st every year to apply for the program. I have to remind myself that these are parents trying to make sure their children have some semblance of the same holiday experience other children they know have. We have rules in place about how often families can access our Christmas list, and that should be the end of my angst about it!
Every year I also hear from those who think we are too generous with our Christmas Program. In the past, we have not only bought gifts for the children, but also a small gift for each parent. Some say we should only give a small gift to each child, and give the family a big box of food. We have compromised this year in changing the program to be only for the children—no gifts for the parents; but knowing our donors, many of the families will also receive “family gifts” of food, blankets, games, etc. Each year, I am overwhelmed by the generosity of those who support our mission.
So to those who think we are too generous (and to my cranky self in the middle of it!), here is what I say:
Try to think back to your childhood years – remember the excitement building up in school over all the holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas). Remember costumes, finger puppet turkeys and snowflakes cut from white paper? Every recess in December was dedicated to discussions of what toy was the best to ask Santa for, weighing the merits, seeing what your friends are asking for—all so exciting to children. Coming back to school in January was so exciting because we all got to compare who got what from Santa!
Now picture being a child who hears all of this, who eagerly joins in the toy conversations before the Christmas break and who goes home to a meager Christmas. He/she finds only a small Dollar Store toy under the tree from Santa. In January, he hears about the Mega-Transformers, the Barbie dolls, the bikes and scooters, the Lego’s that the other children found under the tree from Santa. What does this say to this child about how valuable he is to Santa? What does that translate into his/her soul about their worth in this world? To a child, Santa is God and if he doesn’t value them, then what are they worth?
I refuse to let any children I know suffer this feeling of insignificance if I can help them see and feel that they are children of God and worth far more than they realize.
“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”