Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass- it is about learning to dance in the rain.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Side Effects of the Season

Sadness seems to have more depth at this time of year, kind of like the layers of snow that keep coming and piling up before the previous layer can be taken care of. Some situations feel even worse in the sparkling glow of colored lights and the tinkling sound of silver bells.

I run across situations daily. There’s the teenage boy living with 3 siblings and a dad in a one bedroom walkup with one bath. He doesn’t complain. Last year’s teachers remember bits and pieces of his situation. I confirm them. There won’t be Christmas this year. There’s no money.

Or the teenage girl whose older sister just ran away with her boyfriend. The boyfriend doesn’t want to get married; the girl’s parents are adamant that they must be married immediately to protect the family name. The teenager at home cries herself to sleep at night, then comes to school barely able to function. At the nurse’s office, she has no temperature, but insists she’s weak and can barely walk. I invite her to my office to talk. We uncover the nature of her illness: She’s heartsick.

There’s the group of girls who fight with one another constantly including in-your-face stuff online and in text messages. Resolving the conflict uncovers a history of abuse in all but one of the girls. We report it only to find that DCFS considers it yesterday’s news. Not confirmable.

One youngster has an office referral; we sit down to discuss the situation. I discover that Dad is in prison, mom has deserted him and his sister. He’s living with a relative. I note that his shirt is soiled – the kind of dirt that comes from repeated wearing without washing. Apparently no one is caring much for him.

Countless students worry about having to move from their housing due to rent not being paid. Some move, usually without notice. They are just gone. Vanished into the night to escape the bills. We might criticize the parents for lack of character in such cases, but what of the children? What of the little boy living out of the car? What of the little girl denied the privilege of saying goodbye to her BFF? Will she make another friend or just shut down in the face of emotional devastation?

What can one person do in the face of such desperation in the children? Not a lot. Oh, we have a giving tree at school; teachers even organized a garage sale to raise money for this season. And my family is scaling our Christmas down this year in order to give away the money we would normally spend. But it seems so small and the needs so great.

In the glimmer of sparkling lights, with a background of Christmas melodies these stories take on new life, with poignancy unfelt in other seasons.
As you grab for the Kleenex, take another look at your resources. This is a great opportunity. Contact a social worker at a school in a poor area of your town and make a donation. Give some time at the homeless shelter that you didn’t want in your neighborhood. Slip a $20 or a $50 in the Salvation Army bucket. Talk to the elderly at your church or synagogue. Do they have a place to go for Christmas dinner? Smile at the harried mom with several preschool children in tow. He came for such as these!

And. . . say a prayer for those in need. Say a prayer for yourself and your circle of friends that God will reveal Himself in ways you would not dream of. That’s another wonderful side effect of the season. It’s a season for miracles!


Ballerina Girl said...

I just finished reading (and crying) a book called, "Same kind of Different as Me".
It so rings true at this time of year especially...I was out of town for a BBQ that our community held for a special orphanage that helps the homeless kids of Rio's streets. I gave what I could, but wished that I could have been here for it. (it was planned last minute and therefore I couldn't change my plans)

Anyways, thanks for this post to remind us all of the fortunes we have, and the reality that so many others don't....


PJ said...

I'll have to put that book on my "want to Read" list!

And what I see at school here is nothing compared to the kids on Rio's streets!! Except that it's cold here and they live in the land of plenty.

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