John F. Kennedy
It was the summer of ''02. Three shifts, each consisting of 12 crewmen, were working together in a jet engine plant, tending 25 engines, simultaneously. And the sounds of their pneumatic hammers and drills, screeching and pounding away, was deafening. Brenda, a graduate psychology student who suffered from "Tinnitus" (ringing in the ears), was visiting a friend in town. While taking a walk, she heard the curious noise coming from the plant and wanted to investigate. Brenda entered and could not hear anybody talking, although she saw several employees conversing. The foreman approached her. His lips were moving but she did not hear what he said. She motioned him outside so they could talk. Brenda asked his permission to bring a sleeping bag and stay overnight at the plant. When the foreman looked puzzled, she explained that she was a graduate student in psychology, interested in the learning process. He agreed, explained the situation to all the men and left word for succeeding shifts. The next morning, Brenda could hear men joking about the foolish girl who slept on the floor during all that noise. What could she learn? She rose and explained to them that during her sleep that night she blocked out the noise of those tools and machines, and could actually hear some voices of the workers. She had tuned her ears so that it was possible for her to only hear certain sounds. She had ringing in her ears, but was not attending to it so she didn't hear the ringing... And you can get so used to the ringing in your ears that it becomes part of the background and you don't hear it.
For many people, the Holiday Season is the best of times; and the worst of times. It is a time for trumpets and fanfare; bright shiny colors, uncommon smiles and enduring customs... But for some, there are no trumpets; only a deafening silence; the theme song that accompanies an impoverished life-style filled with pain, anguish and emptiness. While "doing without" seems so strange and theefore stands-out in the foreground of life to some children, it is a familiar companion, to others less fortunate, resigned to acceptance and sacrifice early in life; a part of the background. These children conduct their lives below the threshold of the "ringing", which is virtually non-existant.  And that's how some people learn to live with pain.
The state of our economy notwithstanding, there is a difference in the range and scope of holiday requests between impoverished children and those more fortunate. Consider some of these:
"Now remember to tell Santa which dirt bike I want, Mom."
"I wish we had enough food for everyone this year."
"Can't I get the roller blades and X-Box 3?"
"I would like a pair of pajamas for the winter, and boots without holes."
"Mom, can you take my friends and I shopping to the mall."
"Mom is always working hard, struggling-- I hope she gets time off to spend with us on Christmas."
"Dad, our computer is so old. Can't we get a better one for Christmas? Then I could play some awesome games!"
"I wish I could just go the movies once this year."
In our lives, there are events called, anchors, that have become occasions to remember pleasant and unpleasant experiences. These anchors, can occur as pictures, songs, or feelings, and marked by time. One such anchor, the Holiday Season has come to mean a variety of things to many people. During the past few years, economically difficult times have rendered the Holiday Season an occasion for people to reflect on "what's missing" rather than "what's there." They consider their hardships over the past year; their unmet needs, abilities, relative to years passed, to provide any number of necessities-- and luxuries-- for family members. Faced with the prospect of failure in this regard, many experience stress, depression and anger. The expectations for the holidays become an opportunity for a crisis that seems insurmountable.
"How will I be able to provide gifts for my family?" 
"When they see what some of their friends have, what shall I tell my children?" 
"What about our parents and other relatives; and friends?" 
"The state of the economy has been so bleak, what if this continues next year?"
Under these circumstances, how can one enjoy the holidays? Einstein demonstrated the importance of "relativity" to understanding. And, compared with many, there are those children for whom absence is a constant presence; and their expectations are far less than those of most people. Thus, it takes relatively little to change "less" into "more." Big Brothers/ Big Sisters, A United Way agency, is a context for furnishing goods and services that fulfill the basic needs of less fortunate children. Often, there are two basic programs: (1) Adopt a Family, from which children who provide a "wish list" have their needs met by gifts from the general public. Being exposed to the same environment as middle-class children, they often have the same desires but have to settle for more basic needs such as boots, pajamas and bedding, in order for their wishes to come true. (2) Becoming a Big Brother/ Big Sister. Giving tangible gifts fulfills some needs. But what can replace the opportunity, several hours per week, to enter a more fortunate person's world and gain some valuable resource experiences that can be useful in the future?
This Holiday Season when considering the economy, the prospect of having to settle for less than before, and various family crises which dampen your spirit, think again. Amidst the cacophony of sounds-- pleasant and unpleasant-- there exists a silence that can answer to the call of your trumpet...
"...A call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and  year out..."                                                           John F. Kennedy