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 Every year my sisters and I, along with our significant others, exchange names for Christmas. I usually put the latest super hero movies and some books on my list. Sometimes I think we’d be better off just getting what we wanted ourselves since there is no surprise anyway.

What would really be a pleasant surprise would be if Santa would bring me the items on my list that you can’t buy in a store. These aren’t items that would fit in my stocking or even under my tree.

1. A peaceful society. It seems impossible to find true peace around the world. But let’s at least start at home. When you see people rioting over court cases, it makes you wonder what’s going through their heads. What are you solving through violence? Let’s all get along! We don’t have to agree with everything, and we certainly have the right to disagree with things and become angry. But to take it to such an extreme? Santa, can you do something about that please?

2. An end to suffering. I’ve mentioned this before, but wouldn’t it be nice for people to avoid prolonged, painful illnesses? Listen, we’re all going to die at some point. But sometimes I think that if I’m going to end up with something horrific like cancer, give me a month to wrap things up, say my goodbyes, and die peacefully, without dealing with all the pain that so many people suffer from. Maybe I’m a coward here, but I’ve seen too many people’s quality of life drop off so far that it seems like a battle that’s not fair, when you already know the outcome. If you’ve got a chance to beat it, great; if not, I don’t think I would want to put off the inevitable too long, for the sake of everyone involved.

3. Parents who care about their kids more than themselves. I continue to be amazed at the selfishness of so many adults. There are too many (and by too many, I mean more than zero) who drink and smoke away their money, leaving their kids to wear the same clothes to school day after day, often unwashed. I see people with fancy phones and vehicles and everything else, but their kids can’t have friends over because of embarrassment over the state of their living quarters.

Some kids are limited in their opportunities because their separated parents can’t figure out a plan to get the kids where they would like to be. Even the parents that are together sometimes say no without exploring options. There does come a point where the amount going on is just too much, but I’ve found in my experiences around here that we have many amazing people who are willing to help out others. (That number, by the way, is much higher than the number I’m asking Santa for help with!)

It just draws my ire to see more and more kids come to school with such a poor outlook on everything. Between watching the adults in their lives kick away opportunity for the children and seeing constant yelling and screaming and trying to find enough to eat, too many (again, more than zero) come in behind the eight ball. It’s no wonder we need a mental health professional at school; some of these parents are wrecking their kids’ chances to have a better life.

4. On the flip side, the last thing I might like from the jolly man in red is the ability to stop making excuses for every child who strays from the light side. There have been outside forces affecting kids forever, but now we label everything. That kid’s dad does drugs, that one’s mom has a new boyfriend every month, this child switches from one parent to the next every week, this one has to live with other family members because the parents are unfit. Hey, I’ve got sympathy for those situations, I really do. However, I have to hear more and more about cutting this kid some slack and giving that kid endless strikes before consequence that I start to feel that we’re exacerbating the situations by not just getting these kids to buck up a little in school; after all, they’re away from that bad setting, so why not try to make a better life for yourself so you can escape some day? I’ve seen some kids accomplish that, which always gives me hope.

I may sound like I’m on my high horse here. I know I’ve not had to deal with such difficult statuses in my own life, but sometimes I just feel like shaking people and asking, “Really? Seriously?” And I know that there are some difficult scenarios out there that limit potential at times, but let’s all work together for the kids!

Okay, Santa, how does that work for you? I can forego the Mark Twain book I’d like and the Marvel movies if even one of those things on my list arrived for the holidays. I’ve been a pretty good boy this year…so maybe?

Word of the Week: This week’s word is brummagem, which means cheap and showy, as in, “Instead of the normal brummagem jewelry she was used to, her man finally bought her the real deal.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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