Over the past few months, weíve been continuously bombarded by an endless flow of
advertisements from merchants heralding the arrival of the holiday season and announcing the
availability of their products.
Of all the merchants hawking their wares and urging us to spend our hard earned dollars, perhaps
none are as persistent or potentially influential as those who represent the toy and games industry.
Television commercials, full-page newspaper ads and glitzy flyers all implore us to do one
thing-run out to the nearest mall ASAP and pick up as many items as possible in time for
Have I been affected by their pleas? Of course. After all toys and games are loads of fun, and
donít I have two kids at home who are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Santa? Letís face it, the
advertisements have worked or shall I say the arm twisting has been extremely effective. I mean,
what type of parents would Linda and I be if we didnít do everything in our power to make sure
that David and Evan are amply rewarded with as many toys and games as possible? Talk about
So recently Linda and I found ourselves at the Independence Mall among hundreds of other
parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and other would-be Santas joined in the quest for the ideal
As I wandered down aisle after aisle of bikes, games, dolls, Playstations and stuffed animals I
found myself simultaneously awed and disheartened over the exorbitant cost of toys today. Forty
dollars for a not-so-cute doll, fifty bucks for a Legends of Wrestling videogame, $130 for My
Size Barbie as Rapunzel and $250 for the Star Wars 25th anniversary LEGO Imperial Star
Destroyer. As my journey continued I experienced tremendous feelings of ambivalence toward the
holiday season. On the one hand I was thrilled at the thought of being able to purchase gifts for
the kids and witnessing the pleasure that such items would surely bring. Conversely, I felt great
concern and guilt over whether I would truly be able to afford enough gifts to ensure such
At the same time, I began thinking about other parents who, as a result of the current economic
climate, may not have the wherewithal to feed, clothe or house their children, never mind smother
them with gifts. What does a single mother tell her child on Christmas morning when the boy
rushes over to their tree and finds that thereís nothing beneath it?
How does an unemployed father answer a child who asks, as tears well up in her beautiful blue
eyes, what has she done that was so wrong, so terrible that it could cause Santa to abandon her
this Christmas? What crosses a little boyís mind when he visits his friendís house and notices a
mountain of toys and games heaped beneath the tree?
While thinking about these questions I found myself drifting back to my own childhood and
recalling Christmases past: the annual Christmas Eve ritual of leaving out hot cocoa and cookies
for Santa and carrots for his reindeer, my sister and I opening our gifts and the family gatherings
at Nana Flanaganís home in Dorchester.
How wonderful those Christmases were and how fortunate I am to have such pleasant, enduring
memories of them. Yet, while my Christmas memories are indeed positive ones, there was one
that may not have been quite so enjoyable had it not been for the generosity and compassion of
various charitable organizations and their contributors. Yes there was one year back in the early 60ís when economic
hardship and poor health forced my mother to request charitable assistance and one of those fine
organizations came through.
Unless you have been fortunate to have received assistance from one of the many charitable organizations that exist Iím not sure that you can ever really appreciate
how wonderful a service they provide to their recipients. Such organizations and
the volunteers who support them truly embody the spirit of Christmas and can make a profound
difference in the lives of those dependent upon them.
Think about it-total strangers coming together, giving of their time, money and energy to help
make life a bit more bearable for people whom they may never meet. That to me is truly what
Christmas is all about.!
A neighbor informed me that she doesnít support Christmas-oriented charitable organizations because
she believes that it is inappropriate to focus on helping kids for one day a year while ignoring their
plight for the other 364 days.
I can understand the point that my friend is trying to make; however I totally disagree with her
sentiment. Of course we should try to help one another each and every day of the year.
Unfortunately, however, thereís really no way that weíll ever be able to fully eradicate the
poverty, hunger and hatred confronting mankind, nor ease the pain and suffering that people,
particularly our children, are experiencing with an ever-growing frequency. The least that we can
do is to try to brighten up their day and bring a smile to their face around the holidays when they
might otherwise be forgotten.
To those who can afford to put a little bit of money or time aside I would ask that you consider
making a contribution to one of the many Christmas charitable organizations that work tirelessly to ensure that no one is forgotten during the holiday
season. I can assure you that your compassion and consideration will be appreciated and never,
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