Dec 142011

Last weekend Chickpastor and I took our kids to see Santa. Before our kid’s turn I slid off to the side to get into position for pictures. While I was standing there, waiting and trying not to be noticed, I got to hear what several kids asked for for Christmas. It was nothing exceptional, just the usual: toys and games.

Yesterday, Chickpastor and I were at our children’s school for their presentations on what they had been studying. The hallway walls were covered with drawings, maps, pictures and answers to a wide range of questions. We had some free time to browse, and came to a section where four kindergarteners had answered the question “Why Do I Love America?”  While this is a school which has no racial majority, a third of the student’s parents are immigrants, and I suspect that these answers were written by the children of immigrants. Here are the four answers:

  • I love America because we have fancy toys
  • I love America because there is less pollution
  • I love America because everyone can drive.
  • I love America because we have food.

Four answers to the question "Why I Love America"

These are things we take for granted every day. Fancy toys, clean water, freedom from discrimination and food are all things we most Americans haven’t had to worry about for so long that when it is our turn to sit on Santa’s lap, we ask for frivolities like iPads and HDTVs and the third season of Dexter on DVD.  As these children showed us, not everyone in our world is so fortunate. Many children have toys that are anything but fancy. There are 884 million people in the world without access to clean water, and over three million people die each year from a water related disease. A woman was arrested in May in Saudi Arabia for driving.  One in every seven people are undernourished.

At Christmastime it is so easy to focus on iPads and HDTVs and to forget that there are real people in real places dealing with life and death problems every day. When you get your chance to sit on Santa’s lap, I hope you will remember these children and their stories. If you want to buy them something instead of getting cousin Eddie another season of Dexter, here’s some places that can help:

Toys for Africa

Lutheran World Relief Water Projects

Amnesty International’s Women’s Rights Project

Lutheran World Relief Agriculture Projects