Do They Know It’s Christmas?

I originally wrote this post on December 22, 2011. It still rings true today!

Something to Think About this Christmas SeasonI have not been in a very festive spirit this December at all. I’m not quite sure why I feel this way. Every year I eventually get into the spirit! I do opt not to make it a materialistic extravaganza every year but at least I am somewhat in the spirit…this year…NADA!!!
On Saturday we went to Sosua for a fund raiser put on by Sosua Kids. It was a nice event. They had face painting, a bouncy castle, little games for the kids, performances by local groups and tons of Christmas music! I have to say it was a little odd listening to “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” and other winter related music when it was 30 above, sunny and no snow anywhere!
But still that isn’t it.
The community we live in is a very poor community. No so much right where we are but a short walk down the road, past the colmado is sheer destitution and desperation. Parents sell their young daughters for prostitution for money to feed the rest of the family. Kids that can’t go to school because the parents can’t afford school uniforms. Parents that are alcoholics or drug addicts and the children suffer because of their addictions. I’m sure that there are more stories as well.
The kids sang a song for their singing class that came out in 1984 by Band-Aid for relief funds for Africa. The song was called Do They Know It’s Christmas. None of the other kids in the group seemed to care about how this same thing was going on all around them on the island. They only cared about what THEY were getting for Christmas. 
Today, I was at the Colmado and Johannie (Yo-annie) said “Reina look Santa Claus!” as she pointed at a Coke poster on the wall. I said “Yes! What is going to bring you?” She smiled and gave me a puzzled look. She said “I don’t know”. I asked her what she wanted and again she looked at me like I had suddenly grown a second head. She smiled again and shrugged her shoulders….motioned with her hand that I was crazy…giggled and walked out to play with another child. It was as if to say “You crazy white woman, poor children don’t get what they want from Santa”. She truly had no idea what I was talking about. She recognizes Santa like she recognizes the symbol for Coke or Pepsi but that’s it…it doesn’t make her excited about what she might get from Santa…in her little life there are no gifts like that. She will be lucky if she gets new school shoes for Christmas. Her Grandmother Fatima was asking me what we do for Christmas. I told her we make a big meal and invite our friends and family to share with us. She said they do the same. For them its all about family and nothing more. 

So while all my friends in the rest of the world are worried about whether they can get that perfect gift for their children, if the local grocery store will have a big enough turkey, if there will be snow this year for Christmas and other frivolous things…please remember that there are children in the world that don’t know its Christmas. They know what Christmas is but for them it isn’t something that brings fond memories to mind. It is just another day of little or no food and hard work to get the bare necessities of life.

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