The Hard LessonsPosted: April 26, 2016
“Come here, child, let’s have a talk,” she said, patting the couch cushion next to her.
I was an obedient child; I sat next to her immediately. “What are we talking about, Grandma?” I asked her, curiosity getting the better of my patience.
“What do you think about the way things are?” she asked me.
I was very young, probably five or six. I had no idea what she was asking me, and I said so.
“I mean, how we live here, and how your friends from school live, and how other people in other parts of the world live,” she explained.
I wasn’t really getting her point just yet, though I struggled to understand and come up with an acceptable answer. “It’s good, right? I mean, I have toys, and my friends have toys, just about everyone has toys, don’t they? Doesn’t Santa bring everybody toys at Christmas?”
“Not everyone, sweetheart. Some people lock their doors and their chimneys so Santa can’t get in.”
I was taken aback at this thought. I couldn’t imagine a world without Santa, or a world in which Santa didn’t visit every child in the world, as I had always believed. I didn’t know what to say to that, and so I didn’t say anything. My grandmother took that as her cue to continue her lesson.
“We are very lucky people. We have everything we need, and then some. Do you know there are people all over the world who don’t have anything at all? No home like we have, no clothes, no food, and no toys.”
This was even worse than imagining no Santa. Dirty people, running around with nowhere to eat a dinner they didn’t have. My little mind boggled, and as the boggling began to slow, the horror began to kick in.
“Why don’t they have anything, Grandma?” I asked her.
“A lot of reasons, honey. Sometimes it’s their own fault, and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it’s because of a bad choice they made or because of a bad choice someone else made. What do you think of that?”
“I don’t think it’s fair at all, Grandma. And I think if they don’t have anything, then Santa should definitely visit them, especially their children,” I offered.
“I think you’re right, but that just isn’t the way the world works,” she told me, shaking her head sadly.
I wanted to talk more; I wanted to ask a million questions and get to the bottom of this, but I didn’t know what to ask or how to ask it. I sat there quietly, waiting for my grandmother to offer me the solution.
She never did.