By Mia Saraceni
Christmas awakens warm and fuzzy feelings for everyone. Some are filled with happiness from being with family, and others are stuffed with good food. It’s a time of joy, love and celebration.
But whose reality is that?
Homelessness in the United States has been an ever-evolving issue for years, but more notably after the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.
There are millions of people experiencing homelessness in the U.S, but the saddest issue of all is that approximately 1 in 6 children are homeless, which is about 11.1 million according to the 2021 census.
That might be a meek number in comparison to the country’s entire population, but those numbers are strikingly high and share a sad look into a side of American culture.
But it begs the question, why are there so many people/children living in such horrible conditions? Why hasn’t any solution been brainstormed yet?
America, and frankly the rest of the world, has such a disdain for the homeless that they have integrated hostile anti-homeless architecture in their cities such as spikes on the ground and curved benches to prevent napping.
There isn’t a solution, and nobody cares to come up with one; they’d rather sweep the issue under the rug and hope it solves itself.
It’s an issue year-round, but the holidays can be an especially tough time for homeless individuals and families alike.
While we’re wrapped in blankets and enjoying the peace and tranquility of the holiday season, there are 11.1 million children who won’t get a visit from Santa because that simply just isn’t an option.
Our warm fireplaces and fuzzy socks offer us comfort, but most homeless shelters won’t even open their doors until it hits 20 degrees.
It’s forgotten that Christmas is a luxury that the majority can’t afford. It’s taken for granted entirely, and the people who are struggling the worst don’t even get a second thought.
So how do we help? If our government won’t, is there a way for the people to?
There are many charities dedicated to brightening up the lives of those less fortunate both around the holidays and every other day, such as the Salvation Army.
They offer many different programs such as bill assistance, grocery and food assistance and possibly the most heart-warming: gift/holiday parties for children of low-income families.
Samaritan’s Purse is another charity, and they focus on crafting little boxes full of school supplies, food and toys to deliver to children over the Christmas season.
People can donate to any charity that supports low-income families, and that is a bigger help than is probably known.
A bigger gripe and part of the reason surrounding the ostracization of people in poverty is the lack of human empathy some show, especially concerning items that aren’t essential for living.
There is so much shaming when someone with low-income is seen with nails or hair done, a phone, a computer or anything that is seen as a “luxury.”
This shame extends to homeless or impoverished children with toys.
There is a difference between surviving and living, and they are simply just surviving.
When someone is constantly worried about where their next meal will come from, how and if they’ll even get by and the judgement they’re facing from others who have the upper hand, they deserve to get a haircut if they want it.
The people who judge are the same people who have never experienced anything except privilege their entire lives, so there isn’t even an ounce of understanding for struggle because they just perceive it as laziness.
The holiday and its mascot are supposed to be representations of love, giving and charity, but many won’t look past their own families for this type of behavior.
The Christmas patron is Saint Nicholas, a bishop from Greece who was notorious for gift giving and charitable acts.
Should people not follow in the footsteps of the man the entire holiday is based around?
Should people not offer both acts of charity, whether that be volunteering or donating, as well as compassion and understanding?
We are all just people who are trying to wade through the muck of life, and some have just been dealt a more difficult hand than others, but that does not make them any less human.
It’s our duty as people to help those in need through whatever means we can offer, not just during the holiday season, but year-round.
Those 11.1 million children deserve to feel the same joy as the children who receive bikes and teddy bears for Christmas, and they deserve to have a holiday that isn’t just another day of struggle.
These families deserve a break, especially over a time claiming to be about peace.