Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On the 5th Day of Christmas My Sponsor Gave to Me...

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.


dana said...

This blog entry truly moves me. Garrett, your writing is fantastic, and the material even better. The line you said about your wants being about fulfilling others' needs... sums it up! thanks for such a touching blog today.

amalia said...

Well written
..we are all on a lifelong learning curve ..i cant begin to tell you wht my affiliation with CI has taught me over the years....BUT
I have one special wish ill be wishing on behalf of my sponsored kids.... At Christmas ...
I hope it comes true ;)

Heather M said...

Great post! I noticed the enews story on Zambian children with HIV receiving meals 3 times a week, but this post says that it is available for 5 days a week. Does everyone have 5 day a week access to food?

Kelly said...

Hey Heather,

Great catch! You're right...the number is three, and I've corrected the post to reflect that. Thanks for the sharp eyes!

Anonymous said...

I am very impressed with your blog, Garrett. As a mother of three, I am constantly aware of what I do and how much I do for my kids. Recently, my 5 yr. old and I participated in Operation Christmas Child and the Angel Tree. She was extremely upset when she discovered that so many children nationally and internationally were in need of much more than toys....that they didn't have clothes, food, shelter, education...and she took it upon herself to gather ALL of her clothes, books and toys to give to local charities. Her enthusiasm recharged my. I am optimistic about the hope that together we really can change the world. Thank you for writing such an inspiring blog and for reminding me of what it is all about. Jen Locke

Anonymous said...

Extremely touching and eye opening Blog Garrett. I understood and felt every point you were making. I too agree with you that when a persons' wants is fullfilling someone elses' needs that when you feel like you have done something with your life and that feeling is better than just thinking just about yourself. If everyone took care of everyone else we could feed, clothe, and house everyone on this planet many times over. Just think about how many people would not have poverty if we all took care of eachother... My personal way of life would be one of a resource based economy. If you don't understand what it is take a look at it's very interesting and totally attainable.