“All I want for Christmas is a family.”

The Telegraph, a UK news publication, reports that the top ten things that children put on their Christmas lists, included siblings and a dad. The number one gift children requested was a baby brother or sister. But it’s their number ten request that speaks volumes: a dad. In my book, that’s something that a child shouldn’t have to put on a Christmas list. That should be a given, no pun intended.

And yet, the fact that a sibling and a dad ranked so high on wish-lists gives me great hope. Even though we can see many sociological indicators that suggest all is not at all well with the world, these children seem to suggest that they know it should be better, starting with their own families.

In his homily for Midnight Mass, Pope Benedict, reflecting on Mary and Joseph as they are turned away from every inn, asks, “[W]hat would happen if Mary and Joseph were to knock at my door. Would there be room for them?” He ties the situation of Mary and Joseph to our own lack of willingness to open the doors of our hearts to God, including “children, the suffering, the abandoned, those who are excluded and the poor of this world,” in whom God is reflected.

While these children may not all be writing the type of Christmas letter that the Pope wrote when he was a boy of 7, I find at least two of their requests to be profound and a hopeful indication that their hearts are very generous. And without wanting to suggest that children cast off all their lessons on stranger danger, I think they would open their doors to Mary and Joseph. They’d know a family when they saw it.

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