A Not So Holly Jolly Christmas… for Some

Emilia Juraszek

For most people, Christmas is all about spending time with family, but speaking frankly, kids are still kids and find the most joy in unwrapping their presents. That being said, with ISL being a highly-developed and modern school, it is unlikely that many people who attend have ever lived under the poverty threshold. As a school that has the resources and ability to help, it is important to be aware of the privileges we hold, and how we can use them to benefit others in need.

Imagine this; a young child is delighted to receive a small set of Legos. He then meets with his friends and sees that they’ve gotten an iPad and a sled. Not knowing any better, the boy thinks that he just wasn’t good enough that year and tries to behave the following year. But as Christmas day comes around, the same thing happens. The boy is confused and thinks that Santa doesn’t like him and is being unfair. The moral beliefs and expectations that these children have are unfortunately unable to be met by guilty parents. Generally, the kids are not aware of their financial situation and the more kids the parents have, the more money they have to spend on them, even aside from Christmas. 

However, it is also important to take into account the parents’ perspective. To begin with, they have to spend weeks or even months saving money for the special day, and even if they do manage to have a nice meal and a few small presents, no matter how badly they want their kid(s) to experience the same magical feeling, parents often feel ashamed that they haven’t given their child the best they could have gotten if they just had more money. Along with that, single parents are likely to struggle even more as they have only one person who is receiving income – unless an older child is also working – and who can save up and provide for the family. To put into perspective, the average American spends around $800 on gifts every year and earns $60,000 a year. Compared to someone living in poverty who earns less than $25,000 annually, therefore, would have to spend less on Christmas.

Aside from how victims of poverty spend Christmas, it is essential to learn how we, a wealthy community, can help those in need this holiday season. A project that ISL has participated in for many years is the Gift Box Project, which has proven to be a success. Last year, the school sent out 179 boxes. This year, we aimed for 200 this year and received a total of 316. The motive for this project is to supply presents for children in eastern Europe. The boxes include school supplies, toiletries, toys, and sweets. This contribution helps children understand the importance of giving without expecting something back, and students are more likely to show interest in helping others if they are directly involved.

Moreover, as the Christmas season approaches, it is important for us, a progressive school, to be grateful for what we have, and how we work with that and put it towards making other people happy.