Today is the last day before our 2 week Christmas break and school is abuzz with excitement. Candy canes, movies, parties, snowflakes, games, laughter... all fill the halls. Kids are handing out gifts to friends and teachers, talking about their plans for the next 2 weeks. Some are excited just to be away from school; others are headed to some tropical location away from the snow. They share their hopes for their expected Christmas gifts, cell phones and iPods, snowboards and new clothes.
But lingering on the side lines, I see the other students, those for whom this 2 week vacation means something different. At their house, there is no Christmas tree, no shiny wrapped gifts, no suitcases packed for vacation. For them, 2 weeks without breakfast and lunch at school means an empty stomach and hunger pangs. There might be a basket delivered with some donated food items, and maybe even some wrapped gifts chosen by people who don't know them, things they appreciate, but not really what they would have wanted or chosen for themselves.
We blame the parents for poor choices. We blame them for wasting their money on booze and smokes. We blame them for having too many kids and milking the welfare system we all work so hard to support.
All that may be true.... but still, these are just kids.... just like any other kids... and Christmas for them is sad, just another day in a life filled with little hope or promise.