It’s the most wonderful time of the year…or so the song goes, right? According to the song, kids should be “jingle belling” and our collective hearts should be glowing. I’m “all in” for living in that world. However, reality is often far from this lovely image of this hypothetical holiday-world. The bigger reality is that the holidays can be a very difficult time. Our kids and families are no exception and, in fact, their traumatic experiences and situations can make it the most difficult time, far from wonderful.
The holiday season can truly be a magical time for us all. It is wonderful to spend time with family, have big holiday dinners and, of course, give and receive presents. It is a time to celebrate and Give Joy. But for some, the holidays can be absolutely dreadful. Holidays are expensive and, as a struggling parent, fear can take over, knowing that you won’t be able to provide for your child. A distressing reminder that due to current circumstances you cannot make ends meet let alone make the holidays special.
Over this past Memorial Day weekend, I spent time ruminating about a trip my wife and I took two years ago to France, and our visit to Omaha Beach during the 75th year celebration of D-Day. We spent a good part of a day walking through the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial–it was sobering to say the least. It is a stark reminder about the cost of freedom; about commitment and sacrifice for a greater good.
Welcome to 2021. After the unforgettable, excruciating events of last year, most people are crawling to the door of change, desperate for fresh air and fresh hope! I’m just not so sure that there will be a bright line of distinction between 2020 and 2021. Truth is, plan on stumbling through the fog and traversing the quagmire produced by this pandemic along with our broken political system. But, as I have stated before, this season will pass. Now is the time for Tough Decisions and Hard Work!
This year, Family Care Network launched our Give Joy fundraising campaign to raise funds to provide the children, youth and families in our care with everything they need to have a positive holiday experience. As our team was planning this campaign, setting goals, and reaching out to our community for support, I couldn’t help but reflect on the true meaning and impact of joy itself. After a very hard year, especially for the children and families we serve, there is such a need for joy and light-heartedness.
It's not uncommon to see two youthful brothers fighting. On the way to dinner, they push each other to see who gets there first. At the table, they argue about who got the bigger piece of pie. On the way to the park, they fight about who will carry the football; it never occurs to them to agree to let one of them carry it to the park and the other back home. There is no interest in "reasonable" solutions; it's all about contention. And sometimes the contention gets excessive.
I am so grateful to be a part of the Central Coast community. Even in the midst of these unprecedented times, with uncertainty reaching every corner of our lives, we have come together to support one another. Ever since the COVID-19 health crisis hit us locally, I have seen some amazing examples of generosity and compassion.
In a phone conversation with my sister this past week, she shared a heartwarming story that I really needed to hear considering all that is going on in our world right now. My sister is the head “lunch lady” at an elementary school, and for the past week she has been handing out bagged meals to students in the parking lot of her school. She shared that several of the children who came to pick up lunch one day this past week expressed excitement that they had been provided with cantaloupe in their lunch sack.
There have been times in my life when I didn’t have toilet paper. I usually had a roof over my head (even if it was a carroof), but we didn’t always have finished floors. Did you know that the term “dirt poor” is an Americanism from the 1930s referring to someone living in a house that has a dirt floor? In the United States in the 1990s, I was dirt poor, fleeing from one terrifying temporary non-home to another. Being dirt poor is not just a third world condition, it’s not just a Great Depression Era throw-back, and it doesn’t exclude any race.
DARK and discouraging are these times–all sense of normalcy has been vanquished by the Covid-19 pandemic. “Sheltering in place”, overloaded hospitals, significant shortages of medical and personal supplies, a looming major recession or worse, a depression, and the fear that hundreds of thousands of Americans will die, is all daunting to say the least. Add to these there is an unparalleled political polarization and terrible, ineffective leadership at the federal level. Yes, this is a DARK, foreboding picture indeed!