December 20, 2010

indian children

If you know me, you know I am not a fan of Christmas. Yes, I'm a fan of holidays, eating until you explode and spending quality time with friends and family. However, I'm not a fan of the insane consumerism that marks this culture. Blinking lights & Jingle Bells? Bring it on. Gift exchanging marathon? No, thanks. Black Friday insanity? Only in America. I often joke now that if the Grinch & Scrooge had a baby, that child would be named Else Blake. Bake me a cookie, write me a poem, give me a long sincere hug but for the love of Yoda, don't buy me gifts, pass it on to the next person.

I'm also trying hard to teach my 3 year old daughter that the Earth does not evolve around her belly button - sharing is good, giving is better than receiving and too many unfortunate children in the world never get to have a roof over their heads, clothes on their back, shoes on their feet or a toy in their hands. I'm not trying to be mean & depressing, I'm trying to remind her that 1) she is fortunate to live here & have the things she does and 2) she needs to develop a compassionate, giving heart. It's so easy to look around and belly ache about the things we don't have that we forget to focus on the MANY MANY things we DO have.

Sharing & putting someone else's needs before your own was something my parents drilled into our heads growing up. My grandmother was one of the most generous, giving women I've met and so are my parents. They have their quirks & issues but dear God, they're very generous people.

A few months ago, my mother's prayer group knitted 200 scarves to send to one of the orphanages in India which her church supports. This is actually no big deal at all but yesterday she received a photo of all the children wearing the scarves, with notes of gratitude and joy. The comments, although simple, touched my heart. The children were excited that someone thought to make a gift for them. It made their day! Hmm... Really? A scarf? Children? I own 123 scarves (this is not a joke. I've counted) and I don't think twice about grabbing one on my way out the door. They mean nothing to me. But for these little ones the scarves meant a GIFT and they meant LOVE. It was a day of celebration when the packages arrived. Most children I know would have thrown the scarf aside and asked where their real gifts were. Joy would NOT have been a part of their reaction. Sad. But not for these Indian kids and that's pretty darn cool.

So here's to being less selfish (Else), less self centered (little 3 year old Doodles, she can't help it, she's 3) and being more in touch with making others' needs matter more than our own. I'll try my best. The picture below is going in my wallet as a reminder of the example my grandmother & parents set for me: always give.

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