Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Self Centered

When I walked in to the the apartment, I was surprised by the grocery bag with box stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, and a roasting pan for a turkey sitting beside the door.  I thought to myself "huh - I didn't know they did turkey on Thanksgiving" and for a split second I thought that the mom had just come in from shopping and laid her things down by the door.  Then I realized that here was a care package delivered by some charitable organization to families in need during the holidays.  I also realized that all the things still in the bag were probably going right back out the door to someone else who would use them.  Not everyone cooks a turkey, likes turkey, or needs a turkey.  It was the first time I had considered all of those holiday dinner care packages in this way, and realized how much we don't know, or don't ask, about who we are helping to feed. 

I'm noticing this year that while people have their hearts in the right place, we are a very very self centered country when it comes to "our" holidays.  This morning at the grocery store, the cashier behind me asked the little boy if he was ready for Santa.  "Have you been good?"  Of course he's been good - he's barely 2!  What could he possibly do that would deem him "bad enough" for Santa to ignore him?  Then she went on about Santa not coming if he was a bad boy and such.  Good lord.  Maybe he doesn't celebrate Christmas.  Maybe his family has never talked about Santa. And maybe his family feel that all children are "good" regardless of the imminent visit from St. Nick.  I'm glad we weren't the ones in that line, since I'm not really sure how that conversation would have gone. 

Assumptions.  It's just that we assume that everyone is just like us.  And the reality is that they are not.  We live in an amazing multicultural world, and my area in particular has a huge variety of people from every country imaginable.  Each family has wonderful, varied traditions, dishes, customs, ideas, and holidays.  What if... instead of assuming, we all asked.  What if, we said "what is your family's favorite holiday?"  What if we asked what they do to celebrate?   What if we asked what they most need or want to help their celebration?  What if we cared to know?

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