Show you care the entire year

Published 11:35 am Tuesday, December 14, 2021

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By MICHELLE LOVE | Staff Writer

Every year, SCR collects letters to Santa written by the first graders in various Shelby County schools. Our editorial staff reads through the letters and transcribes them to be featured in our Christmas issue.

I was so excited when I heard this was a tradition. As the old adage goes, kids say the darndest things, and I couldn’t wait to see what wild things these kids wrote to Santa Claus.

A lot of kids asked for popular items like Legos, puppies and video games. Some were so bold as to ask for a unicorn or pet zebra. Some, however, asked for more personal things that really stuck with me.

One kid in particular asked Santa to help her mom “do what she needs to do,” whatever that may be. Another asked point blank for his mom to love him. I don’t know how you can read that and not have any emotional reaction to it.

With the chaos of the holidays, it’s easy to forget that there are some people out there (children included) who won’t be finding that perfect gift under the tree, or even have a tree at all. We all stress ourselves out over spending money on things we don’t need and take for granted the things some people would kill for, and this goes for parents as well as kids.

Recently, I heard about an 8-year-old Shelby County girl who started a holiday toy drive for children in the foster care system. Her name is Crissily, and she decided to start the toy drive after reading a letter from a foster child who wanted a loving family for Christmas.

Crissily has already collected 250 toys for the drive. Her reasoning was simple: “Every kid deserves to have Christmas.”

Christmas looks different for everyone, and not a lot of people realize that. Some kids may get plenty of presents but don’t have the nicest parents, while some kids may have the nicest parents but don’t get many presents. Some may put up a tree while others can’t afford a tree.

I watched “Jingle All the Way” recently after dealing with the Santa letters, and I watched it with a different perspective than usual. On the off chance you haven’t seen it, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character is a workaholic father desperate to find this toy for his son at the last minute of Christmas Eve. The movie relies on laughs based on the materialism of the holidays and also how far would a parent go for their child.

My new perspective wasn’t that Arnold Schwarzenegger had to find the toy because that’s what you do for your kids at Christmas: it was he had to find the toy to prove he loved his son. It was a material way to say, “Hey, I’m here and you can rely on me to be there for you even though the other 364 days out of the year I’ve done a pretty bad job of proving that.”

My opinion is that Christmas shouldn’t be the only time people show they care, and I think this should be applied to everyone. People should make it an everyday practice to say, “I care about you,” or “I’m thinking of you.” Life is incredibly short, shorter than we often realize. My friends who have children are now worrying about what world their children will inherit when they’re grown and whether or not they’ll have the strength to guide through it. It’s scary to think about, but that should be the driving force behind making every day count, not just Christmas.

So, I’m going to say this for whoever out there needs to hear it: It’s okay to show emotion, and it is okay to tell people how you’re feeling. “I love you” is not reserved for special occasions, it is an everyday phrase you should feel comfortable saying.