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Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Grown-Up Christmas List

With thanks to the creator/s of the song "My Grown-Up Christmas List" for the inspiration, my Christmas wish is the same as it always is. And sadly, my dreams seem as unlikely to come true as ever. I don't wish for massive amounts of money or a new car or a bigger house. My wishes aren't even for myself. I have everything I need to live a comfortable life.

No, the things for which I wish are things over which I have no control, and which, sadly, seem to be moving further and further from ever becoming reality. So here are my Christmas wishes:

I wish for an end to the slaughter of wolves. I wish for rescue for all animals suffering in any way, physical or emotional. I wish comfort and love for them, for loving homes, food for their bellies and an end to their pain. I wish for an end to forcing dogs to live their lives on chains, for an end to dog-fighting and puppy mills and pet shops that exploit these animals. I wish for strict penalties for those who abuse non-human animals, children and the elderly, not community service or probation.

I wish for a warm bed and hot food for the homeless people of our country. I wish for jobs for the unemployed, for the safe return of our military forces serving in the world's most dangerous places, and for an end to abuse of children, the elderly and the animals. I wish for a world that respects and cherishes the planet on which we live, and all those who dwell here.

I wish for a kinder, more generous America, one that no longer turns its collective back on the most vulnerable among us. There is no reason why, in the wealthiest country on Earth, people go hungry because they cannot afford food for themselves or their children.

I wish for people to get involved in their favorite cause, whatever it may be. Don't have money to donate? Give your time and talent instead. Write a letter, join a protest or boycott, hold a bake sale or garage sale to raise funds for your favorite group.

I wish that people would open their hearts throughout the year, not just at Christmas. I wish that people would respond to the unsung heroes among us, as they did to a recent NBC News story about a woman in Arkansas who spent her entire life savings to provide tutoring, meals, toys and love to poor children. Viewers in less than a week donated more than $200,000 to this one effort to help the neediest. We need that kind of outpouring of support throughout the year. I wish that more people would find the unsung heroes in their own communities and see how they can help. Find the small groups of people struggling to make a difference locally.

I wish that more people would share the gift of life by donating blood and by signing up to be organ donors upon their death. I wish that people would reach out to those in need by visiting a lonely senior in a nursing home or hospital. Take a meal to a neighbor in need, or rake the leaves or shovel the driveway for someone, just because.

It doesn't matter whether you are Christian or Jewish, Buddhist or Muslim. Keep the spirit of Christmas alive in your heart throughout the year. Keep the spirit of love and compassion alive, keep the light of hope burning.

Merry Christmas, everyone.