Sunday evening was the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Grove in Los Angeles. Aside from the fact that I firmly believe Christmas decorations shouldn’t make an appearance until after Thanksgiving, the Grove also celebrated the occasion with an elaborate fireworks display. A display I could see from my bedroom window and could feel as every window in my house vibrated. And I wondered - what do fireworks have to do with Christmas?
And then my mind, working overtime as it often does, wondered about the money that was spent to produce that fireworks display. And I thought of my students who would be coming to school the next morning - some with holes in their shoes, some qualifying for free lunches. And it made me sad. Sad that Christmas is being celebrated in this over-the-top, extravagant, premature way. Sad that in the “land of the free and home of the brave” things are still so unequal. Kobe Bryant will always make more money throwing a ball in a hoop than I ever will teaching children. (Let’s just remember he wouldn’t be a Laker without first getting an education from his teachers). Miles away from this retail center that has been compared to Disneyland, children sleep in homeless shelters, and children go to bed hungry.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m no selfless saint. I indulge in my occasional over-priced, speciality coffee drinks. I splurge and purchase a certain face-wash. But, I also donate. My heart and soul to my students (for my efforts are never properly monetarily compensated). And I donate small amounts of money to several different organizations.
Christmas is a time of good-will. So, I’ll look at the “glass-is-half-full” view of this situation. The fireworks were presented to celebrate the time of the year we acknowledge those in our lives with tokens of appreciation. We acknowledge miracles and joy, happiness and possibility. And maybe in the midst of merriment, we’ll all remember to spread the joy in any way we can.