As Christmas approaches, every parent who celebrates the holiday grapples with a variety of issues about the spirit of giving. Will I be able to afford the latest iPad for my kid? How do I let my husband know that he needs to give me a spa gift certificate? What can I give him that he won’t hate? Is it OK for me to re-gift this unopened coffee pot from my neighbor to my … other neighbor? Or maybe, how do I impress upon my kids the idea that giving is more important than receiving when their heads are full of very material wants?
OK, we’re not all quite this shallow or priviledged. But to greater or lesser degrees, most of us don’t want for necessities. We want for stuff. And the money with which to give it, so that our kids can receive it. We don’t want happy children on Christmas morning. We want full on elation. We want uber validation delivered in buckets upon us. We want children jumping up and down and dancing like Pharrell. We want our presents to be ripped open with glee.
But the latest heartfelt video from WestJet Airlines, like their previous videos, reminds us about something even more powerful, and profound. Oh, profound? Yes. If you’re looking for a way to step back and remember what’s important, this video is certainly it. Because underneath our desire to give our kids all those “things” is a commonality we shrare with all parents everywhere, even if it becomes corrupt, distorted, or misplaced sometimes. What we want as parents is also what makes us most vulnerable: at our core we want our children to be safe, to have enough to eat, clean clothes on their backs, and lives free of serious worries. We want to be able to provide our children those things. We want to see our kids playing, laughing, feeling free.
These are the basic human wants when you’re a parent.
WestJet’s video is set in a coastal Dominican community called Nuevo Renacer on Christmas Eve day. A mysterious blue sleigh appears in their street. When parents and children sit inside the sleigh, a Santa in a blue suit appears on a video screen, communicates with them, and asks them what they want most. One parent asks for a washing machine. Another, a new motorcycle for his taxi service. Another wants a horse to pull a cart. They want a place for their kids to play that’s safe. The resounding theme: they want to be able to earn a decent living and/or give their kids a better life. Not one of the parents wants anything for himself. Seemingly, not one even considers this when asked.
Christmas Day arrives, and the town receives everything they wished for. A team of WestJet “elves” deliver wrapped bins with ribbons that contain the items they wanted.
The smiles on the faces tug at one’s heart.
This video links to a secondary video that tells the story behind the scenes. WestJet has apparently built 23 homes in this community. They’ve built a basketball court and a playground. They are trying to help, not just in the short term as a Santa who brings gifts the very next day, but for the long term. They want children to attend school, have basic necessities. It’s a great story about big business getting involved and making a difference out there in the greater world.
But the video itself hits closer to home for any parent, and gives us pause. What are we hoping to give to our children this year? What are we hoping to receive? And for what reasons?
Do yourself a favor and watch the video here, now: