Damn it, Karen Foley Santa Claus is Real!

I love everything about Karen Foley’s writing. Karen is all about family and she’s all about Bangor. I love arguing with her though it’s rare we disagree. This time, however, she is dead to rights wrong.

Karen Foley says there is no Santa Claus. (I know, right?!?)

I want to prove her wrong but I’m going to need a lot of help. See, I’m talking about the REAL Santa Claus – Saint Nicholas. St. Nick was a 4th century bishop with a penchant for secret gift giving. He left coins in the shoes of the needy.

If ever there was a time for walking in the shoes of the needy, this is it.

My all time favorite television show remains M*A*S*H* Every holiday season I recall the Christmas lesson of Charles Emerson Winchester III. Seeking to continue his wealthy family’s tradition, he buys chocolate for children of a war torn country. He’s infuriated to discover that his gift has been sold on the black market and humbled to learn the proceeds were used to buy food.

A lot of us still haven’t learned that lesson. Benevolence is a well intended but misguided thing.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all about the angel trees. I’m all about giving gifts to children – especially those who wouldn’t receive them otherwise. It’s just that there’s so much more to it. Too many of our kids (OUR kids, damn it) play with those toys in cold houses with empty bellies. Too many of them will pile those toys into trash bags to carry after they become homeless.

So let’s do the feel good buying Barbie doll thing and then let’s do one hell of a lot more. Let’s consider the very cool research on gift giving shared recently on Upworthy (very cool site for inspiration & motivation). Let’s play St. Nick and support some local charities where we KNOW our gifts not only reach those most in need but do so for our neighbors.

I want to read news stories about Melissa Huston of Good Shepherd Food Bank being overrun with donations.  I want Thea Day of Salvation Army Bangor to have enough money to get basic needs met for every displaced worker who crosses her path. I want to hear that some group or organization really got in the holiday spirit and decided to fund rehabilitation at Wellspring for a recovering addict without health insurance.

And then when our holiday spirit has hit an unprecedented high I want to talk about what Bangor needs most: a shelter for homeless families. For all of our growth and cool developments; we’re still failing to meet people’s basic life needs. Collectively, we’ve depended almost exclusively on failing government programs and a handful of overworked nonprofit organizations to deal with social problems that exist in our backyards. The simple truth is we’re not getting the job done.

I’m progressively proud to make greater Bangor my home. I see, as many do, the potential for the area to grow exponentially. Our investments must be more than giving luxuries. We can truly rejoice this holiday season when at last we Take Care of Our Own.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in assisting people in recovery (whether from drugs, alcohol, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles and improve their quality of life.