Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Letters to Santa...

The other day, I asked the kids to write letters to Santa. Or, in their case, to draw letters to Santa with pictures of what they might want for Christmas.

Zavion = To Santa, Stuffed snake, off-limits Legos, Gogos and monster truck

Eliza = To Santa, Rainbow princess dress with matching crown, stuffed kitty and doll
(Not pictured is Miles' artwork - snakes, Bionicles, large toy Hulks)

So, yea, Eliza is all rainbows and princesses and Miles and Zavion are all snakes, trucks and super heroes. This gender role stuff is for real. I never sat down with Zavion and said, 'you're a boy, you should like trucks, weapons and super-heroes.' It just happens. Seriously. I'm sure David and Katy didn't push princesses on Eliza, either. There's definitely something inate there. And then society (and consumerism) works its own formula to send girls one way and boys another. Oh well, at least Zavion admits to liking pink these days.

Good thing Santa, (aka Daddy Jack -my father) is making a special trip to Harare this year, so the kids can get what they've asked for. Check out this pile of Amazon crap stuff that has arrived at his house to be brought to Africa. (photo courtesy of Daddy Jack.)

It all started with a simple request; 'Dad, do you mind if we order a couple of things to your house and have you bring them to Africa?' I believe we call this the mushroom effect. Knowing Amazon, though, it's mostly carboard and air, and once it's been unpacked, it'll look a lot less daunting. I told Dad to think of it as a real life version of Tetris. THANKS AGAIN, DAD (AND ANNE!)

So, all of this ordering and gift requesting has got me thinking. Just last week, I was with the kids at the children's home and brought them small stockings and gifts. Just some school supplies (colored pencils, glue sticks, pencil sharpeners,) and a couple of small toys. Nothing fancy at all. And they were as excited and gracious as can be. It was all toothy grins and hugs and high fives. The excitement over the pencils and glue was genuine and overwhelming. they even took the time to write their names on everything. It was so refreshing how happy they were over such simple gifts. And, yet, here I am ordering my own son (and neice and nephew) the latest toys from America. Not sure how these guys would react if their stockings only contained school supplies... So, how to find that balance? Getting them some of what they want without giving into the gross commercialism of America? How to make sure they appreciate the little things in life, too? It's a tricky balance to try and achieve. I could write all day, but you get the idea of what's been on my mind...

I'll be taking Zavion and Eliza to meet the kids at the home during the holidays, which I'm hoping will be an interesting, educational endeavor. Zavion, who at 4 1/2 is taller than half of the 6-12 year olds that I've been working with. No doubt malnutrition and stunting are in effect... Can't wait for them to meet, though.

OK, before I go - here are a few pictures from Zavion and Eliza's art show last week. They have just completed an 8 week art class and were very proud of their work. The stuff was really good! They even got awards/certificates :)

Children's artwork

Zavion showing off some of his work (the giraffe in the lower left corner, the stripes next to him and the colorful fingerpainting on the top row.)
One of the group projects- I love the colors!

I can't believe it's almost Christmas - what with the warm weather and the tank tops and the playing in the pool today...

Hope you are all ready to enjoy the holidays :)

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