Fortunately for most parents and families, the greatest challenge they have at Christmas holiday time is deciding whether to venture out on Black Friday, Small Store Saturday or if the new XBox or PlayStation 4 is going to be in stock when they make it to the mall.
But for other families, thankfully a much smaller number, the challenges are much greater. They're sometimes even heart breaking. It's predicated on the challenges of a special needs member of the clan. It could be a child, a brother or perhaps aunt or uncle. Being a special needs person doesn't mean you should be hidden away.
Sure, there are times when their uncontrollable outbursts or actions, involuntary as they are, cause for a bit of commotion or embarrassment for their attendants. It's not as much fun as taking a fully healthy person with you and facing the dauntlessness of crowds and distractions. It's tough enough to keep your eyes on your charge, let alone not become a bit wistful if only they could live that "normal" life that surrounds them and you. If only your special one could find a moment of normal happiness. It's elusive, and so cherished.
This year a number of malls across Canada (and a paltry few down here) are doing something rather unique -- they're setting aside blocks of time for the traditional store Santa to give a moment to scores of special needs children. And when you think of it, isn't the holiday season the time of year where we all should take notice of those blessings we all have and give back, or at least acknowledge those who face life-long challenges?
It's heartbreaking to the caregivers who see so few opportunities for our young ones to be as welcomed into the world the rest of us take for granted. Even if only for a fleeting moment, the thrill it is to see the challenged given their special moment.
Take a look and you'll see how little it takes to truly give. I applaud these Canadian malls, and hope that mall merchants down here in the states and across the ponds in Europe and Asia will demand this act of kindness opportunity. If I'm going to face the crowds to purchase my gifts, I'm going to patronize with my purchasing power stores that stand for something more than pure commercialism. Shops that sponsor a heart and allow the Christmas dreams of those less fortunate to come true will be getting my almighty dollar.