This is typically an awesome week for most of us. We're surrounded by family. We have plenty (too much) to eat. We play games. We laugh. We express gratitude for all we have. We go to church. We drink hot chocolate. We sleep in warm houses. We open too many presents. We are lucky.
As we head into "Christmas Week," I just want everyone to remember that it's NOT a Merry Christmas for all. For way too many, December 25th is just another cruel reminder that they're struggling with very little "hope," if any, at all.
It hurts for me to think that too many of my students won't be helping grandma bake cookies. They won't be sipping hot chocolate with the awesome, little marshmallows while playing board games near a fire. They won't be unwrapping "too many" presents, and maybe not any at all. They won't be sleeping in while in a warm house. They won't enjoy a large and delicious Christmas meal, with leftovers for days. Heck, some of them may not eat at all on Christmas Day.
I don't write about this to bring anyone down. I write about it just to bring some real-life awareness to this issue. I never ask any student what their "favorite Christmas gift was" because some won't get any at all. I also know that too many of our students are dreading Christmas Break. Once our break begins on Wednesday at 2:00, we won't be back in session for 14 full days when we open up again at 8:00 AM on Thursday, January 5th. Too many of our students won't have enough to eat over the next two weeks. They will be in cold apartments and houses. They will be looking forward to January 5th like you can't believe.
If you can, see what you can do to help a student or family in need. We work with lots of different groups and individuals to provide "holiday meals," jackets, games, clothes, and small toys to families we know that need a helping hand. Some students are embarrassed about this so we just drop these things off at their house while they're in school.
I don't want anyone to feel guilty about all you have. I just want you to think about helping others that might not be so fortunate. If you get a lot of new clothes, boots, shoes, etc. this week, consider donating some of your older items to kids that aren't so lucky.
I believe in "HOPE" and I think it is the #1 factor in a child's future success. If a child has "hope" that they can achieve greatness, that they can graduate, that they can become a productive citizen, become an entrepreneur, become a business owner, a fork-lift driver, a farmer, a teacher, a nurse, an electrician, a plumber, whatever.....they can do it. You have to believe it to achieve it and that is where we can all help instill "hope" in others.
Make kids smile. Tell them they can "do it." Help them see that everyone has adversity, everyone has things they wish they could change, and that everyone who works hard can have a bright future.
Have a Merry Christmas and try to help those that won't.