5 Supplemental Meals
A Christmas wish worth writing down.
I remember Christmas as a time of anticipation. After Thanksgiving, mom would go to work with a military efficiency that would make any drill sergeant proud. Soon our house would look like a Christmas grenade had been thrown through the living room window. Fragile porcelain reindeer perched on every surface, creating a minefield for young knees and elbows. Shutting a door would dislodge a plateau of holly or bring a clump of mistletoe down on your head. Passing airplanes could calibrate their instruments by the multi-colored glow of our front lawn. Clark Griswold had nothing on my mom.
The rest of us stalked warily through the house, knowing that a simple “can you help for a minute?” would translate to hours of grueling holiday labor. After the initial onslaught, mom would slow down enough for us to resurface. If she was disappointed that we didn’t share her zeal for decoration – she rarely let on. I would have been too busy to notice anyway. By then I was engaged in the serious endeavor of creating my Christmas wish list.
In few areas of my life did I display the attention to detail that I gave my yearly wish list. It all seemed so important. How was I supposed to pay attention in school when at home my one-armed Spiderman figure was facing down a gang of super-villains without the new Spidey-mobile? How could my army of battered stormtroopers be expected to mount a credible defense against the Rebel Alliance without an Imperial Walker or at least a couple of T-Wing fighters to ride in? Didn’t anybody realize that the fate of the entire universe could hinge upon a single item on that list!
I tried to be reasonable. After all, we were a middle class family. My parents could hardly be expected to take out a second mortgage or forego buying presents for my siblings in order to properly outfit my Batcave. In an attempt to placate Santa, I was forced to limit the list to only my absolute Needs. It was tough, but I soldiered on.
As the big day approached, I prepared to confront reality. It was rarely a match for my imagination. But no matter how many toys were left off my list, when the gifts had all been opened and the living room floor reduced to a paper-strewn battlefield – I always felt something very near contentment.
Looking back on those days, I can’t help being a little embarrassed. Like the majority of us, I went through life with no concept of the difference between a “need” and a “want”. I never had to struggle through the day with an empty stomach or fall asleep wondering where I would find my next meal. Food, shelter and clothing were provided for me with such little fanfare they barely warranted consideration.
I’ve done some growing up since then. I’ve witnessed the devastating effects of poverty and seen the face of true need. Accordingly, my values and priorities have matured. I’ve found that more pleasure can be derived from helping others than from helping myself. That’s what led me to Children International.
It’s comforting to know that once a child is sponsored through CI, they can receive supplemental meals from their community center up to three times a week. I love imagining the weight lifted off the shoulders of a mother or father when they realize their child doesn’t have to face malnourishment and starvation. Knowing that sponsorship keeps these kids from slipping through the cracks warms my heart in ways extravagant gifts never could. And then there are the other ways CI helps these kids – with things like clothing, healthcare and education that benefit them far beyond their next meal.
I still have a lot of growing up to do. It’s impossible to go from taking food and shelter for granted to understanding the plight of the impoverished overnight. But I can take comfort in the knowledge that the day my wants became about fulfilling others’ needs, I came a long way.
Here’s to hoping you get everything on your list this year.
Posted on behalf of Garrett Kenyon.