Friday, December 17, 2010

The wise tutelage of Fred Claus

Not too long ago, I read this post and I was reminded of a time a couple of years ago when I too was in a giving position where I felt more Scrooge-like than I thought I was capable of. A couple of years ago, my mum was attempting to get the last of the items that had not been chosen on the Giving Tree at her church. One of these items was a pair of G-Unit Jeans, which sell for over $60. Luckily, my mum had a friend who worked at Macy's in NYC where the jeans in question were on sale and with the employee discount, came to about $25. I think all "in the know" of this situation were happy to have made this child's Christmas wish come true, however, it was not without some frustration.

But why had I been frustrated by this child's request? Was it because it was a purchase that I did not particularly agree with? {in terms of it being a brand that I had not wanted to support} Or was it because I was passing judgement; that a family "in need" shouldn't be asking for something like extravagant jeans that I wouldn't buy for myself?

As we stand in front of the Giving Trees in our YMCA, Churches, Malls, etc., it is not too difficult to feel Scrooged when we see requests for Wii, IPads or the like. Here are a few of my thoughts on this seasonally apropos topic: First, it is not my place to pass judgement on what others are asking for. I have to eat some humble pie here and admit that part of what makes me feel a bit Scroogey is that I myself would like an IPad but will not buy one this season! I've also found that as my children get older, the items they ask from us {and Santa} become more expensive. Perhaps it is my own anxiety about holiday buying for my own clan that makes me a bit impatient with some of the extravagant requests on the Giving Tree?


And that brings me to my second thought: a friend + I were discussing this the other day and she shared what her Pastor had told her congrergation. These children are not being selfish, extravagant or insensitive to cost; they are making their Christmas wish to SANTA. I don't think they understand who will be actually laying out the money for the items they write down. I had never thought about this before and it gave me a new perspective from which to look at Giving Trees + the items asked for. My last thought comes from one of my favorite Christmas movies, Fred Claus. Ofcourse, there is nothing wrong with looking at Vince Vaughn for an hour or so, but more importantly, there is a wonderful message. This is how I apply the tutelage of Fred Claus to the topic at hand: We shouldn't judge others, especially the children on the Giving Tree, for what their Christmas wishes are because we either don't agree with it or because of our own financial worry. Fred Claus reminds us in a little monologue at the end of the movie {that always makes me tear up} that, "there are no naughty children. There are kids that are scared, that don't feel listened to...and those that have had some really tough breaks. But every child deserves a present at Christmas." I write the following, not to preach, but in the hopes of taking my own advice...and perhaps inspiring others in the process. If it is in your means to do so, buy a tiny gift, donate one of your kids coats from last year that is in great condition, or even bring some cans of food to your local fire house or food pantry. And even if this is not possible, the most important thing that we can do this holiday season, which doesn's cost a thing, is to be more compassionate. Even when times are tough, I am so grateful to have what I have...and to be able to give my littles a wonderful Christmas. When I come from a place of compassion, it means as much to me as anything else that every child should be able to open a gift at Christmas and know that someone is thinking of them. That, afterall is how we can change the world: One Random Act of Kindness at a Time.



  1. Thanks for this....I work for a non-profit that helps families during the holiday season and I find this time of year more then any is when I feel really grouchy about all the "demands" people make on their holiday list. I'll take a peice of that humble-pie. Your post has served as a good reminder to me that I need to be more compassionate during this time as I think I am most other times of the year.

    Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  2. a beautiful post... we were lucky enough in the elementary schools to have a biweekly collection for our local food pantry, a coat drive, and a gifting tree... now that the kids are in the middle, high school and beyond, we have to find those places (not so hard to do)... but it almost makes it more 'real' world - working a bit to give... taking the time and the thought... being grateful... staying open... thinking of others...


I would love to hear your thoughts...especially if they are nice! So post away friends, post away!