Christmas is for the orphans

Dear Editor,

Christmas has a lot to teach us about ourselves: what we expect, what we think we want and what we feel entitled to. I have spent Christmas everywhere, on different continents, countries, from Baghdad to Berbice, New York to Montreal, in war and peacetime, with family and friends and all alone, poor and rich.

I don’t like Christmas and don’t have the Christmas spirit. The joys, anticipations and excitement of Christmas were stolen from me during my childhood and as an adult. Growing up I never liked Christmas because I never got any gifts. As a result, it made Christmas a very unhappy time for me. When I became an adult and could afford to buy myself gifts, I didn’t.

My dislike for Christmas grew after joining the military. The reason for this is because I had to spend Christmas either preparing to deploy to war, fighting in a war or preparing to return home from combat. While preparing to deploy, I had to bury the Christmas’s spirit. I had to forget Christmas. And I had to focus only on the training and mission that was beforehand. My survival depended upon the training. As a result of burying Christmas and not being able to celebrate it for many years, I lost the spirit and joy of the Christmas’s season.

On the other hand, my wife and children love Christmas.  Every year, they put up the Christmas tree and lights. I am not able to help them with the Christmas decorations because it is too overwhelming for me. It brings back bad memories of childhood and combat. I watch them do it, and it is a numbing feeling to me.

People asked me what I want for Christmas? I never want anything for Christmas, no gifts, nothing. I feel I have everything I need: a wonderful family, country and community, so I don’t need any gifts. I already have one of the greatest gifts: life, what more do I need? However, I feel bad not being able to share the Christmas excitement with my children.

One thing I do enjoy during Christmas is visiting the orphanage. Somehow, I experienced the Christmas feeling in the orphanage seeing the smiles on the face of the orphans as they opened their gifts, and their eyes opened wide. They remind me of how much I have to be thankful for. I see how grateful they are for their little gifts. For some of them, it’s the first time they have been given a Christmas gift. It makes me happy to be able witness that special moment.

For me, Christmas is creating moments like this in a child’s life. Giving gifts to a child who rarely ever gets one and being there for a child whose parents are not there is what Christmas is all about. That is what makes Christmas special to me. Helping the boys and girls who can’t help themselves. That’s what makes Christmas exciting to me. Christmas is mostly for the orphans. It’s for the thousands of orphans who are mostly remembered only during Christmas.

Editor, I encourage you to take your family to an orphanage and spend Christmas with the orphans, I guarantee that it’ll change your children’s lives forever. Editor, I want to wish you and your family and staff a Merry Christmas.

Yours faithfully,

Anthony Pantlitz

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