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January 5, 2011 / DennisT

What Children Really Deserve at Christmas

A recent Boston Globe article described a particularly vile crime that occurred in Boston last week.  A week or so before Christmas in the middle of the night thieves broke into a crate used to store toys for the charity organization “Toys for Tots” and stole thousands of dollars worth of toys that were destined to be placed under the trees of some of Massachusetts ’ most disadvantaged children.

The irony and timing of this horrendous deed brought more attention than most mere robberies get. One woman that donated to replace the toy’s commented in the Globe article that “Every kid deserves a Christmas.” In an effort to replace the stolen goods, donations have poured in from across the state.

On the day of the world’s most important and symbolically rich holiday, these comments invite consideration about what children really deserve, what Christmas has become and what Christ really stood for. As a Christian, a former residential counselor at the Italian Home for Children, a former social worker for Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and at present a resident physician, I have worked hands on throughout my life with literally hundreds upon hundreds of our society’s most disadvantaged families. In this experience I have seen first hand the horrible adversity that these families face.

Children in these families are forced to overcome social injustice and physical, psychological, developmental and intellectual disabilities that often begin in early childhood or in utero and haunt them for life. Some will overcome the long odds facing them but many in adulthood will become our poor, our disadvantaged, our criminals and our physically and mentally sick. I was stricken at how quick people were to replace stolen toys on Christmas but at how reluctant many people are to give their time, energy and compassion to the disadvantaged the rest of the year.

Jesus Christ changed the course of human history because he preached a message of love, forgiveness, understanding and social justice that resonated to humanity in a desperate and harsh time. It has been over two thousand years since Jesus Christ was crucified by the Roman Empire because he taught this to the ancient world. Two millenia after his death the world that the children who open those toys on Christmas morning will live in is still a place of horrible inequality, lack of compassion, misunderstanding and social injustice.

It is fun to give and receive gifts and I myself literally spent hundreds and hundreds buying gifts for family but when I read those comments I could not help but see that they were as ironic as the deed that brought them on.

The message of Christ was not about lavishing objects upon each other for one day. As wrong as it was for the thieves to steal these toys, it is hardly the biggest adversity impoverished children and families face. I commend those who gave their hard earned money to replace the toys but what our impoverished need is love, kindness, support, understanding and social justice year round. My experience has taught me that as a culture we are severely lacking in this domain. At Christmastime we should remember the best thing we can do for the unfortunate is to do what we can to make a world where Christ’s core message and social justice are the gift we give year round.

 

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