Opinion: If every day could be Christmas

Peace on Earth and goodwill to all. This time of year, you’ve probably heard that sentiment more than once. I am always amazed at the way people come together during the holidays. There are so many charitable drives, so many volunteers looking for opportunities that literally sometimes there are no shifts available. I have spoken with other nonprofit directors who struggle to fill volunteer slots all year, but during the holidays we end up turning volunteers away.

I mean you can’t blame people, right? Everyone deserves a hot meal at Christmas. All kids should have at least something under the tree to open Christmas morning. No one should be without a coat or shoes during Christmas. Let’s help people with their medical bills this month so that they can focus on their families and not be so stressed during Christmas.

I have nothing against any of these sentiments. I know first-hand the joy of giving and do not begrudge anyone who helps someone else. I do want to provide a little bit to ponder though. We all love to watch the social media posts of surprising struggling families with some grand gesture that will make this Christmas a bit more special. Have you ever stopped to think about what this really means? There are hard-working dedicated people in our community who struggle every day to make ends meet. Some of our politicians would have you believe that those who are struggling are choosing to. You’ve never seen anyone roll up to a shack and say, “Today we are going to be surprising Bob. Now Bob is lazy and refuses to get a job. Let’s make his Christmas magical.” No, you don’t.

What we do see is hard-working, long-time teachers who are having to sell crafts on the side to afford medical bills. Or a waitress trying to raise kids on just tips leaving kids home alone because she can’t afford child care. Sometimes we see families that have lost a loved one who was the primary income. So, yes, it is amazing and wonderful when we all get to watch someone get a huge Christmas surprise. However, what if we just paid our teachers a competitive wage to begin with? What if health care were affordable? What if there were good, accessible child care resources?

Do these needs disappear on January first? Likely not. And, certainly, we will have forgotten those needs come the first Tuesday in November. It is time that we as Idahoans remember that there are hard-working, dedicated members of our community that need a wage that they can live on, affordable housing, child care that works for working families, and an education that prepares the next generation.

Without those things what have we really accomplished? Even Scrooge realized it took more than a Christmas turkey to improve Bob Cratchit’s life. He understood that he had to permanently improve conditions to make a real difference.

David Roth is the chair of the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee.