The kids who go to school were having a Christmas party to celebrate the end of their mid term exams. The kids have been talking about it forever! There was good food, dancing, fancy outfits, and they even got a gift. I could tell that the kids who are home schooled were definitely jealous when the other kids talked about it. A few days ago, Jennifer suggested we have our own party at home. What a wonderful idea! So Sue and I put together a little party for them. On Tuesday morning, all the home schooled kids put on fancy outfits to "go" to the party here. It was sweet. Peter and SonSon changed their clothes about three times each before they were satisfied with their choice. Our party consisted of Christmas themed color-by-number, peanut butter cookie baking, dancing to Christmas music, watching the movie "Elf," and of course eating candy canes (thanks Amy!). I also let them open Christmas presents that my mom had sent. She sent three educational computer programs for us to use during school. We tried them out today and the kids LOVE THEM! It's going to be such a great tool to help the kids get acquainted with using computers as well as giving them a new way to be excited about learning. They're surprisingly quick learners so far for not being exposed to a computer ever before.
Christmas is right around the corner but sometimes it doesn't feel like it. The normal indicators of Christmas to me are not here. It's not cold, there's no extra traffic, I haven't been Christmas shopping, I haven't drank a cinnamon dolce latte out of a red starbucks cup, and I haven't driven down candy cane lane or gone to the drive through nativity (don't laugh fan). It's the strangest Christmas I've ever had. I am very thankful to be able to experience Christmas in a different way though. The biggest way that we will celebrate is by going to a party at a different orphanage. I'm very excited! The kids are too. Sometimes I miss the things from home that make Christmas feel like Christmas. But the more I think about it, the more I realize how unnecessary a lot of it is. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas. But a lot of the things that make Christmas fun for me cost money money money.
Here is the contrast that I've been thinking about:
I could buy a Christmas tree for my house --or-- A kid could have one cup of milk a day for a month
I could buy three lattes from Starbucks --or-- I could send a kid to school for a month
I could buy a fancy bike for a kid --or-- I could enroll a Haitian child in school for a year
I could buy $100 worth of Christmas decorations --or-- I could buy a kid a uniform, books, and shoes for one school year
I really love Christmas, and I probably will buy Christmas presents for people next year. I probably will buy a Christmas tree and I probably will buy lattes from Starbucks. I'm not suggesting that anyone give up all their Christmas traditions. But I think it's important to remember at what costs those things come. According to one survey, people estimated that they would spend $646 on gifts this year for Christmas (http://americanresearchgroup.com/holiday/). That's a lot of money! I know people get the "let's not be selfish" lecture every year around this time and I know that it's not a crime to buy your niece a nice Christmas gift. It's just something that's been on my heart more than ever this Christmas.
It's good to be in Haiti for Christmas. It's good to know that I can be happy without all those hallmark Christmas "necessities." It's good to see money being spent wisely and out of real necessity. It's good to be in a place where society isn't pressuring me to spend money on Christmas. I am hoping that by being here in Haiti, I can really make a change next year and be more wise about where my money goes. Not only for Christmas, but throughout the year. We are all aware of what real necessity is, I'm just blessed to see it first hand and let it affect me to the point of change.