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This Day in My History


There may be as many as 11 million of these orphans, according to the United Nations. It's as if every child under the age of 19 in New York were left to raise themselves.

- ABC News

Yesterday's Entries

2000:  Mom's Christmas Crisis
2001:  Lost and Alone on Some Forgotten Highway
2002:  Fizzbin


Breakfast:  Kashi GoLean Cereal

Lunch:  A banana and peanut butter

Dinner:  Chicken salad


John Denver's Christmas Concert in Washington, DC (the standard car CD at Christmas time)



None today.


Grey and chilly



22 December 2003

I’m having a real hard time writing this entry tonight. My brain is trying to process the information overload I’ve had on this day.

Most specifically, my brain is trying to wrap its way around the Oprah special on her Christmas in South Africa last year with the news report I heard right afterwards.

Oprah took clothes, books, shoes, and toys to thousands of children who had never received a gift. She visited children living in unbelievable poverty in a country decimated by HIV and AIDS, a country that is losing its middle generation, a country where there will soon be only very old people and very young people.

She visited children who had never had a doll, little girls who have known only rape and physical abuse, young children who have lived on their own since losing both parents. Children who beamed when they found someone who cared about them.

When the show ended, the news came on and I wasn’t really paying much attention until something happened to click and I looked. The report was coming from a local pet store where owners were buying gifts for their pets. The clerk interviewed said that toys for pets was big business and that it was expected that 60% of pet owners in this country will be buying Christmas presents for their pets. The showed a little Christmas wreath that plays a doggie Christmas carol when the dog chews in the right spot.

The one story right after the previous one made me feel very sad.

It’s not that I begrudge anyone the joy of giving a gift to a beloved pet (heck, I sent a gift to Chippa in Australia) but the enormity of the plight of children worldwide who have never had a Christmas, or a birthday, or the warmth of a caring family sometimes overwhelms me.

We sometimes get so complacent. We complain, as I did yesterday, about how inconvenienced we are by crowds. We feel overwhelmed when we have to fix a big Christmas dinner for a large group of people. We wonder if cranky Aunt Pearl will like what we bought for her and we wonder what we can get for Uncle Charlie, who has everything.

‘Tis the season.

We’re pressured and overwhelmed and perhaps a bit depressed.

But I look at the faces of the children on Oprah today and I think of how grateful they were to get a pair of shoes and a pair of jeans. How it made their whole year to get the only doll they’d probably ever have...or a ball to kick around with their friends for a brief respite from the situations of life that 6 year olds were never meant to handle.

And I think about how much money is being spent on Fido or Fifi, who have no idea why this night is different from other nights.

It makes me want to do something, but I, like most of the rest of us, don’t do anything. I sit here and tsk tsk tsk about how terrible it all is, and when I’ve finished writing this, I’ll go in to my well-stocked refrigerator and pull out too much food to fix for us for dinner for tonight.

There was a time when I used to try to make a small difference at Christmas time. There is guilt that I haven’t been able to find the drive to do it for the last few years. I kind of pulled in when we lost Paul and David. It’s not a good excuse, it’s just what happened.

So Christmas will come and we’ll open too many gifts and eat too much food and in Australia Chippa will play the new toy I bought for her.

And all over the world...and probably even in my own back yard...there are children who will be going to bed without a visit from St. Nick, or a chance to mix turkey and potatoes and cranberry sauce all together, or any visions of sugarplums anywhere in their heads.

There’s something wrong here.



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Ned and his Grandma Sykes

For more photos, please visit My Fotolog and My FoodLog

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Weight Lost to date:  48.6 lbs

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Created 12/21/03