Fair Warning: This post is deliberately meant to challenge certain long-held ideas. It is intended to shock you into awareness. I will try to do so as kindly as possible, I know most of you are not willfully ignorant, but I want to help you to be the best you can be, even if, maybe especially if, that means getting you to give up something you love. I also do not want to out you to your children, so please, don’t let them read this without reading it yourself, and even then, only after you have seriously reflected on it.
I know it is only August. Christmas is still four months away. Visions of air conditioners and bathing suits still push out sugar plums. Still, this topic is on my mind. I live in the city, I work in the city, I usually play in the city and in doing all these I have noted a curious absence around that time of year. Oh, everyone decorates as best they can. You can hear Christmas carols in the 19th Ward as readily as you can Fairport. No, it is the morning after Christmas I notice it.
Somehow Santa Claus has missed entire neighborhoods. He is a busy guy, I know. Seven billion people to visit in one night, and I complain about the hundred or so I have to in one afternoon, it makes me feel like a bit of a slacker. I am sure he has to cut corners to do so, and how can you blame him? I wonder though, how he chooses which places to skip. Surely there cannot be entire neighborhoods full of bad girls and boys, can there? I have known some of these children. It has to be some kind of mistake… every year. So I have written him a letter.
I want to start by saying I am a big fan. Red is one of my favorite colors to wear (very slimming, as I am sure you are aware) and we both share a fondness for deer (please be careful when visiting certain rural areas.) You have a work ethic that beggars description and always write such nice notes when I leave milk and cookies for you. I do have a concern though.
I have friends that you seem to miss every year. Little DeShaun, Emily and Hector are good little kids. They help their moms and dads, especially when they only have one or the other. They work real hard in school even though they have to compete with forty other kids for the teacher’s attention. They are never in any sort of trouble. They have a great many friends that are the same way. I have never known them to be bad in any way.
So I have to ask, why do you not come to their homes? You could not have put them on your naughty list, could you? They don’t belong there. I know you are busy, but I also know how much you look out, so I know you know how bad my friends have it. They could sure use a little love from the world’s favorite, jolly, old elf.
Because if they don’t get it, and soon, they are going to start believing they are on your naughty list. If they start believing they are on your naughty list, they are going to start believing they are naughty, no matter how good they are, and if they start believing that, well, they may decide being good really isn’t that good after all.
I don’t know how much American TV, or radio, or internet, or print you get up in the North Pole (do you even have mail service or WiFi?) but if you have seen any of it, you know that it does a pretty good job of making my friends believe they are automatically less than other kids. It would sure break their hearts if the Spirit of Generosity and Kindness confirmed this. If that happens, well, I don’t want to think about what could happen to them.
So if you could please do me a favor, and I know it is a biggie because you’ve been doing this so long, if you can’t come to Deshaun’s, or Emily’s, or Hector’s neighborhoods, can you please not go to any. Because when they see you go other places, but not where they live, it hurts them, and I know you are too nice to want that to happen.
Harsh? Maybe, but I want you all to think a little. I know most of the people I will link to this are decent people. I understand that for many the first reaction will be “Oh look, Christine is tilting at windmills again.” It’s true, I do that. There are so very many to charge at, and someone has to do it. I know you may believe that I am raining on your Christmas Parade. It is, after all, just a bit of harmless fun.
I would not send this to you, however, if I did not think you were smart enough, strong enough and more importantly decent enough to do the introspection I ask of you. I would not bother if I thought you were all so calloused that you were incapable of thinking about the harm this tradition has done to millions of poor children, especially children of color.
There are so many excellent traditions around our holiday seasons to draw on. If the buying of gifts for your children is so important, do it as mom and dad, not as some mythical creature who only gives to good boys and girls, therefor reinforcing the notion that the poor are undeserving. Sure giving this up means losing a little of the fun for you, and maybe your kids, but your kids will still have fun, you will still have a nice enough life, and little DeShaun, Emily, and Hector, will not be left wondering whether it is worth their while to try to be good.