The holidays used to be hard for me because there was always such a large disconnect for me between the optics of the season and what I experienced.
The proverbial reason for the season –
the birth of Christ being with your family – didn’t make me feel great, because I at times felt like I wasn’t welcome in my own house. Our family also wasn’t big enough to experience that rush of cousins and aunts and grandmas that my friends had every December. My grandma lived with us, and my grandpa came to the house almost every other week. The picturesque Hallmark Christmas was something that was seemed impossible to me. The holidays, then, were an extension of the norm; it just so happened to be cold instead of hot and I was seasonally depressed instead of regularly depressed.
The gift giving aspect of the season always made me feel bad, too. We didn’t have very much money growing up, my mom raising me and then my sister basically by herself with help from her own parents. (It took me a minute to actually put two and two together and re-calibrate the requests on my list – even though I put an iMac on the list every year, it just wasn’t in the cards.) When I did ask for stuff that was in the budget, I rarely got it. It hurt! It felt like my desires weren’t respected, and as a kid, that really does a number on your psyche. You can wish and wish all you want, but if those that can come true are blocked by your supposed support system, it’s hard to come back from that. It makes it hard to tell yourself, at the age of 25, that your needs and wants matter when you were shown and told that they didn’t when you were 13.
Now, I have my own job, my own income. I am in tune with my needs and my wants. I am lucky enough to have a partner who loves and respects me and encourages me to take what I need and fosters an environment where aspirations are both my own and achievable. I look forward to the holidays now, as an adult, because I am in control of what happens during them. And I like to use that newfound power to try to help little ones who might be in the same situation I was when I was 10 or 13.
The USPS runs an event every December called “Operation Santa
” where all of the letters that are addressed to Santa and dropped into mailboxes are opened, scanned, and then uploaded to the internet, for other people to see. Donors can then adopt a letter, guaranteeing that the child’s Christmas wishes will come true.
Lots of these letters are incredible – it’s a window into child development that I rarely get anymore, now that I don’t live with my sister. You can see kids actively working out what their voice is in the way they write. You can see the time and effort that some kids put into their handwriting because this is a special occasion folks, we’re sending mail to fucking Santa Claus. There are kids with pure hearts who just want their parents to be happy, or to find a new job after they lost theirs in the pandemic. One heartbreaking letter asks for the ability to see a family member who passed away due to COVID-19.
The season is as much about love and care for yourself and those close to you as it is expressing that same love and care for folks you might not know. Literally every single person other than Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg is hurting right now. We have been summarily failed by our leaders and the new dude who will sit behind the dumbass desk in the White House in January doesn’t seem like he’s going to do anything tangible to help out. Mutual aid takes a lot of different forms, and I know for me, a lot of the time I focus on helping out other adults. But kids matter too. If your dreams are crushed and crushed and crushed again you’ll never dare to dream again.
Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. In the Good Stuff Zone, I’ve collected a handful of gaming related letters. Some kids want PS5s, obviously, but there’s one kid I found who wants a new PSP. One kid wants a pair of Switches so she can play Animal Crossing with her brother. You might not be able to help these kids specifically, but I encourage you to sift through the website and find a letter that you can adopt.