Friday, December 25, 2009

Conflicted Christmas

First let me say we had a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning. The kids were great, the tree looked great, we spent time with everybody we wanted to spend time with, and everyone seemed to genuinely enjoy the two days. So why the conflictedness?

I think its something every parent who has adopted from a poverty stricken country is feeling today. It really hit me when that song "Do they know its Christmastime at all" played on the radio. I mean, talk about a stupid song. The lyrics (when you can understand them) attempt to paint this dreadful portrait of a poor and starving Africa that we all witnessed when adopting, but trivialize it by way overdramatizing. In contrast, the melody and rhythms are joyous Christmas bells and upbeat rotodrums. Weird contradictions. Anyway, in the middle of all this nonsense, one of the singers belts out, clear as day, "Tonight thank God it's them instead of you."

That's the line that grabs me. When you think about it, the only thing that seperates us from some poor Asefa or Ketemash living in a dung hut spending Christmas morning looking at their drought and insect decimated crops and their starving children is where we were born. Doesn't that seem capricious? Doesn't that seem tenuous? Isn't that the most random thing in the universe, when you really think about it? Makes me feel like a lottery winner instead of someone who knocked himself out in college, grad school, and building a career.

So then I look at our girls. They are now normal size for their ages, totally healthy, comfortably playing with their new dolls in a warm house and enjoying a balanced breakfast. Three years ago they were starving and filthy, earning their own way in the village by tending chickens, collecting firewood, washing clothes and dishes, sweeping floors, fetching water, etc. Today, their are countless orphans in Ethiopia and other countries living exactly like our kids once did.

"Tonight thank God its' them instead of you." It's enough to make you cry.


Corinne said...

...and so I have. thank you for this. you've put into words an undertow that's been pulling at me the last couple of weeks.

Liz said...

I really came to detest that song this year.

Here's what sticks with me after just returning from Ethiopia - the people I saw don't have much, and I probably wouldn't be able to last 2 days living their lives, but they looked HAPPY. Happier than most people I see here in the US.

Anonymous said...