Christmas can be an emotional time of year – especially for those of us who have lost someone or who have unhappy Christmas memories from childhood.
This year I’ve been pitching in at a weird corner of the internet (what’s new?) It’s a sub-reddit called Santa’s Little Helpers. At first I just watched. Parents would post a story about trying to have a good Christmas for their kids, and then post the link to an Amazon wish list. The stories usually had the theme in common of “I hate to ask, but my kids aren’t going to get anything this year and …” When I looked at the Amazon lists, the parents were often asking for so little: a coloring book, a $10 toy or two.
As I got to know the community, I was surprised by the Santas because they have one big thing in common. It’s not that they’re rich. It’s not that they’re especially religious. It’s that they’ve had childhoods with lousy, giftless Christmases. Stuck in the foster system or born to parents who had substance abuse or mental problems. And now they choose to spend their time, energy, trust and money to make sure other kids have a happy holiday. One teenage giver ran out of money after gifting $800 worth of stuff and turned to her savings. One husband and wife team are in a contest to ‘out give’ one another. Husband is currently on top, trying to pay hundreds of dollars of overdue bills for people. This is all done anonymously, where no one in the ‘real lives’ will see what they’ve been up to.
The thing that humbles me the most is that I have to wonder how I’d respond to a broken childhood like that. The temptation would be strong to simply hate Christmas. As self-pity fuel goes, the Ghost of Past Shitty Christmases is pretty excellent stuff. But all these mini-Santas, however, quietly choose another path. One of positivity and trust in strangers. It’s another reminder to face the holiday with ‘good will to man’ and to focus on others and positivity. All their kindness in the face of their pasts is enough to make you believe in Christmas!
And on that corny note, I’m out. Happy Holidays everyone! May it be filled with positive things and trust in strangers! (And a little Star Wars because that movie is AWESOME!)