A long time ago lived a little girl who lived with her mother. This mother seemed to always put her and her siblings in some sort of unhealthy living environment. Not knowing what was coming next, where they would end up, what they would eat or sleep, this child was dragged around without an understanding of life. ( Yes, this story already resembles so many children who grow up in extreme poverty and homeless situations.)
Over the years this little girl grew up without the stability of the holidays, or birthdays or the celebration of childhood milestones. Being the oldest of all the siblings, she could anticipate what was needed and how to handle the next situation.
This little girl was the fill in mom when her siblings were in need of care, was the housekeeper when the dishes piled too high, learned to cook and fill in where needed. Often being abandon and left with her younger siblings and learning to fend for their meals or basic needs.
Finally the day came when her mom found yet another step-father to "help". The day came when the little girl with all her siblings moved into a beautiful house, in a family neighborhood around the corner from a park she could often visit with her siblings. These happier days led to having neighborhood children to play with, friends to form and another baby on the way. Yes, the family was still poor, did without, wasn't completely up to social norms or standards, but there seemed to be a calm. The children slept at night, had enough to eat most of the time. The heart has time to rest and believe in a brighter future.
As the holidays approached, the stressors in the house were definitely being felt. Fighting, yelling, children being punished, mom crying and slowly reverting back to neglecting the children.
Christmas morning peeks through the bedroom window of the children who are all crammed sleeping in blankets on the floor in their mismatched makeshift p.j.s. With exciting giggles, the children all run down the stairs to see what Santa must have left from them; after all they have a new family, they have their childhood hope of a better tomorrow. They were full of the imaginary joy the holidays promise to all children.
There was nothing, no gifts, nothing, no stockings, no parents waiting to see their
smiles of excitement. She can see outside the window children playing with their new toys, riding their new bikes. Laughter of happy children filled the streets.
When the mom finally awoke, this little girl asked her mom why Santa didn't visit them? The mom replied, "Santa doesn't come to bad children".
This little girls searched her memory to remember everything she had done and what could have caused Santa to feel she was so bad. She really couldn't find anything. She never talked back out of fear of what would follow, she always kept her room clean because there was no other option, she did the dishes, she washed the dog, she fed the children, she walked to school and did her best every day. She could not see what was so wrong with her and her siblings that Santa would not come.
As adults, we can rationalize that the mom was saying that because she wasn't able to provide gifts for whatever reason, but a 10 year old child cannot. A 10 year old child who is already being neglected of basic support, of love, of nutritional meals can only feel she is BAD.
So, where does a 10 year old child go from here? Do they become filled with anger, self hatred, not feeling they will ever be enough? Does she shut down, withdraw? Does she become bitter in the world and stop believing in any childhood joys that help to create a healthy mindset of their being?
YES!! YES!! All the above happens.
Why share this story? Why let a little 10 year old relive her childhood trauma?
The answer is simple. Project Hawaii's Christmas Wish Program was developed so that NO CHILD would ever be left out of the joy their hearts NEED for Christmas. Our program is designed to bring their wishes from Santa to their tents, cars, makeshift houses, broken and abused homes. Bringing hope to a child who has little to believe in is life changing. While we have hundreds of stories that can be shared how a child's mindset was altered because of a simple gift that was donated, the reason WHY isn't always understood.
We don't know what these parents tell their children, what excuse they use to defuse the question of why. We do know that when a child is left out of any situation, even just from being poor, they will have a harder time to ever trust they are worth it... anything. Being poor, being homeless, being left out are all implants of not being worth it. When someone doesn't feel worthy, they no longer bother to try. However, when a child feels worth it, they don't understand the feeling of not trying or wishing for what they want, and that is what creates success.
Many people might just think it is a toy, or a special gift, and it doesn't really matter if the toy isn't what they asked for. Many people will never know the full impact of what their little bit of care actually does for a child who has to grasp to anything positive in their life. This gift, this Christmas Wish, is the light they are hoping for. These children just want to know they are worth IT. They are worth as much as any child, and they actually are cared for by that mystical magic man who travels the whole world in one night to billions of children... and doesn't forget about them!
While we might not be able to change the self hatred this little 10 year old feels, we can take her inspiring memories to change the fate for so many others. There is a little saying that those who survive can use their stories to help others do the same. I have a coach who says, "your story will be the guidebook to someone who needs it to change their own life".
To me... YOU are the pebble, you are the "one thing", you are the hope they get to hold on to until the next step forward they receive.
Please have a Merry Christmas and know that your support of any kind in this world will make a difference!!