Every kid deserves a Christmas

by Brian Keaney

I love Christmas.  I love everything about it.  I love the decorations, the presents, the music, the parties, the food – everything.  I love that at over 9 feet tall, this is the smallest tree my roommate and I have ever set up in our apartment.

I even once got into an argument with a nun, who also was my professor, on the first day of class because I told her that I wished I still believed in Santa Claus.  I still want to believe that there is jolly old elf with magic reindeer who, just because he likes to see the smiles on little kids’ faces, travels all over the world one night a year delivering toys and delighting children.

Santa and one ecstatic little girl.

I also recognize how fortunate I am to be able to enjoy all of these things .  Today I read a heartbreaking account of how kids are writing to Santa asking not for toys and goodies, but for the basic necessities.

Cesar, 7, wrote for himself and his baby sister.

“This year my mom don’t have much money to spend on Christmas gifts so I’m writing to you,” Cesar told Santa. “It would make us very happy if you and your elves would bring us toys and clothes.”

Also today, Brian McGrory ran his annual column today touting Christmas in the City.

The Kennedys have room for 2,800 homeless children at the event. But because Jake can’t say no, he’s taking requests for help from others in need who just want to be able to put a gift under the tree on Christmas morning.

How many requests? On Dec. 1, the earliest that people could apply for help, Kennedy arrived at work to a line of hundreds of people that snaked through Downtown Crossing. Store owners called police because their doors were blocked. Volunteers rushed outside to take down information.

By tradition, Christmas in the City’s volunteers present every child at the event with a wrapped, individualized gift that was on his or her wish list, and right now, they’re still hundreds short of what they need. Beyond that, Kennedy needs thousands of toys to help as many of the 6,000 people who have pleaded for assistance come Christmas Day.

Good God.  There are 2,800 homeless kids – that we know about! – living in shelters.  That’s about as many as are in the Dedham Public Schools.  That’s every kid in my hometown without a home.

Though they lack what we, or at least I, so often take for granted, none of that matters for at least one day.  This amazing program gives these kids with so little one of the most precious of all possible gifts, a smile, and more importantly a reason to do so.  These are kids who are writing to Santa asking him to bring their mother a winter coat because she doesn’t have one.  These are kids who don’t know where they are going to sleep tonight or where their next meal is going to come from, but they do know that Santa loves them.  That he’s looking out for them.  That he came down here from the North Pole just to bring them a toy that they wanted.

I don’t know how many years now McGrory has been writing the column, but just as sure as I know that this column is going to be written every December, I knew that by the end of it I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from donating.  I’ve already spent far more on gifts this year than I planned to.  I’m worth way more dead than I am alive, and I won’t be out of debt until I’m ready to retire.  Still, I couldn’t help myself.  Every kid deserves a Christmas.

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