Saturday, January 15, 2011

Las Posadas and a world full of child molesters?

The more important Holiday of the season in Mexico is the Day of the Three Kings. Not to say that Christmas is not important, it is the Day of the Three Kings where the tradition of gifts comes from.

My family use to celebrate it because of the Russian Calendar and it was another excuse at having family and friends over for dinner, you know the rest.....
During the week of the 3 Kings I was reflecting of how the Holidays around Christmas have changed. From when I was about 10, the excitement of seeing the tree, the packages under the tree and the family during the season, then when I was about 20, then 40 and to nowadays.

I was also thinking of what makes the Christmas time special for me, not just meeting with friends and stuff, but for sharing and giving and more importantly that of thinking of exactly why we celebrate's not just for Hot Buttered Rums and Eggnog......but you already know that.

The change I was thinking about made me feel a little sad simply because the change seems to have stifled the ability to share, just because it is not Politically Correct. So the real question is have these changes were they done for the betterment of society, as I see it, I don't believe so, but I am sure there will be people out there that will take task to that, so go ahead and give me your best shot argument.

During my years in business I was involved in many clubs, one of which that was instrumental in my life was my association with Rotary International.

You may only know of Rotary because they have a sign as you enter your town or perhaps you know a Rotarian or maybe even participated in one of their youth student exchange programs.
Anyway, Rotary has clubs in over 200 counties have there are more than 33,000 clubs in the world. The main reason I joined Rotary because I wanted to be part of the community and this was a great way to give back to the community. This is why there are so many service clubs in the world. In addition to Rotary, there are clubs like Kiwanis, Lyons, Toastmasters, 20-30 clubs, Elks and many others. These clubs are a good way to meet people and to be able to volunteer to do projects which benefit both the community locally and through out the world.

When I got into Rotary in the late 70's one of the annual events my club did was have an annual Christmas Dinner.

The program was this. We would ask some local teachers from several schools to provide the names and phone numbers of families who for one reason or another could use some assistance in providing positive Christmas experience for their kids. Many of these families were from single Mom households who just simply could not afford to do much for their children. Lots of times this event would be the only thing the kids would have for the season.

The members of the club would then contact the parents, explain that we were a community service club and that we would like to invite their kids to a Christmas dinner, hosted by our Rotary Club. The evening consisted of picking them up, usually several kids from a neighborhood, return to the hotel where we had the dinners all set up, have dinner, whereas Santa come and hand out gifts and stuff. We would then chauffeur the kids back home by 8:45 or so.

What could be more in the spirit of Christmas and sharing....

This happened for many years until one year, the club was confronted with a situation that would change the event. Seems the club could no longer get insurance for having the kids in various cars and could no longer cover the liability of the event.

Then someone said that we shouldn't be hanging around kids anyway. We might be accused of some improper conduct with the kids. It was about that time when there seemed to be a lot of publicity about problems and accusations with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters organizations.
The someone else brought up what if somehow somewhere someone would convince their kids to falsely accused someone of improper conduct in order to get some money out of it. All we would need in this small town was to have a some kid say "He did it!" and we would all be ruined.....forever. When I was growing up, we didn't seem to have those kind of issues, at least not like we hear about now. There was always a neighborhood child molester that all the kids new about and stayed away from. Now there seems to be either a lot more of them or we just hear about them. There are lots of kids that have not grown up with "street smarts" and are fodder for sick people who have these kind of issues....but that is another topic .....

Our club certainly didn't want to even think about any thing like that. It didn't matter that the spouses of the members were there too, it was just bad PR, and we couldn't get sucked into any controversy.

That is when the world changed.....

So what could a bunch Rotarian's do now to make the Christmas Season special for these kids?

Mind you that this was still way before the PC police were trying to change Christmas by turning it into "The Holiday Season", so us Rotarian's still had lots of Christmas do-good in our blood.

Why not provide needy kids with shoes? Someone said.

We asked the teachers and they told us that about 25 % or more of the kids didn't have the proper shoes because they were either hand me downs or the families simply couldn't afford decent shoes.

That was are AH Ha, moment.

One of our members was in the shoe business, so he got excited about this program. The idea was to simply provide certificates to needy families which they could go to his store, get fitted for shoes and get them for free.
After all, we could get them "Wholesale" and that way our money would go a longer way, and everyone would be happy.....

Except a few people that said that giving free shoes would be demeaning to some families......

Mind you , none of the families we had given shoes to in the past, judging from the thank you letters, had any issues of being demeaned.

So......that program was stopped.

So now it's demeaning to be generous to people that may need assistance.......gotta love Political Correctness.....

So now I can't celebrate Christmas, unless I have a great Holiday Season.

So now the loud outspoken people and groups seem to have won......except in Mexico we still celebrate Christmas and the Day of the Three Kings.

I still enjoy doing something for kids during the Christmas Season, so what I have gone to doing is my little way of possibly helping out kids around the area. So, instead of giving toys to the kids, I go to Costco and buy up some jackets in various sizes and hand them to one of the Nuns at the school in the small town down the road from our house.

I don't get involved, I don't get blamed, I don't get ridiculed, but I feel good that a few kids will get a jacket that they need. They will get something on the Day of the Three Kings........

The Nuns seem to like it, I hope the kids like it, and I don't have to wrap anything.

I think they are also more appreciative then the kids NOB. I also remember one of the downside of those evening dinners . There would always be a few kids who would look at their toys that they had just received and argue with Santa that they wanted something the thing that the person in front of them received...........

Hard to make everyone happy isn't it?

I hope you had a great Day of the Three Kings.....I know I did.


Dan in NC said...

GREAT post! Sorry to say, it is a sad commentary on modern society, but nevertheless, true. It's a real bummer when being nice to any group of kids is misconstrued... Sounds like your anonymous alternative works though!
Dan in NC

Calypso said...

It is sad that it has come down to being afraid of interacting with children. Society assuming everyone is a child molester.

Enjoyed the story on the Rotary - there is one here in Puerto Escondido. ;-)

JerryL said...

Funny that you brought that topic up, I was in a service club that took kids out to cut their Christmas tree and provided a luncheon, followed by gift for them and family members.
That got stopped for exactly the same reason, the insurance liabilty, unless they would sign tons of releases and forms. We really had great responses with it, especially since many of the kids had no male role models, the mothers really appreicated it too. We finally just sent a check to several churches and let them deal with it. It was really a rewarding experience. It was unfortunate, but the lawyers ruined that one.

HD said...

It is truly sad that today it is considered suspect to let a youngster hang around an older male. The way I learned a lot of stuff was from hanging around various people in the neighborhood, helping people with plumbing, electrical and other jobs around the neighborhood. Today the first thing is that they are immediately considered a predator. I believe society is missing out on a lot of mentor relationships that were the normal 50 years ago. Kids are thought not to even say hello to strangers or even neighbors. Sad state of affairs. They closed up the local boys club because they could no longer get any volunteers just because of that reason.
HD in Fla.

Tancho said...

Dan, I don't know about you, but I sure enjoyed the old times where kids could do more stuff and not worry about getting abused and stuff, but sadly now parents do that to the kid too.
Calypso, there are tons of Rotary Clubs in Mexico, the one in Patzcuaro meets at night, so they make it a party every time I went to a meeting....way too much partying for me at this point in life....
Jerry, That was a nice thing to do with the Christmas Trees, I never heard of any club doing that!
HD, my early teens I was in the hair of either mechanics or TV repairmen, which proved to be valuable in my later years...what are kids going to do nowadays? Hang out with the GeekSquad?????

- Mexican Trailrunner said...

Good post, Tancho, the world is certainly in a state of distress. I'm glad I'm on the way out instead of on the way into it.
A friend asked me the other day if I thought we might have lived and been raised in the best of times. . .the 50s, I'm beginning to think so.
Paz a Usted, Sr. Generoso.

Dan in NC said...

Tancho, I grew up watching Arthur Godfry, Buffalo Bill, Soupy Sales, and listening to Frankie A. singing "Venus" on Wxyz. We built mud forts on the sides of the culverts of our unpaved streets and blew up the plastic soldiers that we populated them with, using salvos from our Daisey BB gun. We built tree houses in the woods behind our houses, and refused to let girls join our club! We popped into our local bar on Halloween as we knew the patrons slipped spare change to the "cute" kids! Joined the Boys club, and made Eagle before the "pervs" started showing up. So, yep! Like you I come from what appears to have been a simpler, safer time - or at least one that did not have today's INSTANT exposure to all that is going on in the world. Truly, ignorance was bliss..
Dan in NC

Steve Cotton said...

We faced a lot of the same issues when I worked with The Salvation Army. As you can imagine, the news stories about the Catholic priest incidents caused a great deal of concern for us -- both legally and logistically. We work very closely with children every day.

The Army dealt with the issue calmly and logically. They now require an annual course for every person who works with children. There are certain safeguards designed to minimize any untoward behavior. But it is a small price to pay for keeping the programs in place and having real contact with children. The last thing that needs to happen is for the children to lose the contact they desire. And The Army decided the good would far outweigh any risk.

Tancho said...

I agree with your thoughts of the best of times, but only we know, since the future generations think that their times are the least that what they are told... bring back memories of how simple things were growing up. Funny that if you looked at today's standards, laws, restrictions none of us should even be alive...and you brought out how fun it use to be for us on Halloween...
Steve it is sad that so many youngster will never see or get the knowledge of elders because of the stigma blanketed on the adult population.

Felipe said...

Ah, the Elks, the Lions, etc. Do those organizations still exist? I guess I could Google it easily enough.

But -- what you say -- you're right.

Tancho said...

Of course they still do Felipe, in fact the local Rotary club meeting location is steps away from your new diggs in town....
I went there a few times, but unlike the US clubs, these fellows meet at night, and the primary reason is to imbibe in social refreshments.
I no longer can enjoy that type of abuse on my fragile body and am usually in bed by the time they get going to full speed.
Most of these service clubs started fading away about 25 years ago when they were forced into opening up their memberships to any and all seems that they could really no longer be selective about the people they could accept without being sued..... Same reason lots of things have gotten screwed up.

Felipe said...

Yes, I know the Rotarians are here in P√°tzcuaro, and the fact that it's mostly a drinking club does not surprise me. Let's hope they do some good deeds too between toasts.

I just Googled the Elks, and they are alive and well, it seems.

And, Tancho, I have seen your body, clothed of course, and fragile doesn't seem appropriate. Well-fed and robust comes to mind.