Children add a special *sparkle* to Christmas, don’t they?


I loved watching the twinkle in Little Man’s eyes recently as he helped decorate the Christmas tree in “Poppa’s room.”  He loved putting the brass ornaments and antlers and pheasant feathers on the woodland-theme tree.


I’ll admit it … and if you are kind enough to visit My Place very often, you already know:


Children hold a special place in my heart.


Their kindness and innocence and common sense are so refreshing … and I’ve always thought that the most important job I ever had was raising my daughters.  I’m not a perfect parent (who is?), but I’m a darn good parent — and grandparent — and I take that role very seriously.

So where am I going with this?  Well, you’re reading a post I’ve been writing in my head for the past few months.  It’s one some of you aren’t going to like.  You may not understand where I’m coming from.  You may even get angry.


I hope you’ll hear me out.  I’m really struggling with something …

One morning while running errands, I turned on Hallerin Hilton Hill, a local radio talk show host in Knoxville. I like that I never know what topic he’s going to tackle … and that sometimes he’s pretty gutsy.  Well, on this particular morning, he was asking the question:


Are you a pet owner or a pet parent?


I listened as caller after caller gave their answer.  Suffice it to say that some of their responses I couldn’t stomach. I turned off the radio … but their words wouldn’t go away.

Now before you decide that I don’t like pets, let me show you something. This is Tigger.  His ninth life ended last January, and I’ll admit that I’ve really missed seeing him snuggled under the Christmas tree this year.  Our dogs were always outside pets … but this little guy often got special treatment.  Usually because he demanded it!

When I put together dresses for the Wedding Closet project I told you about, he insisted on being right in the middle of everything …

He was lovable like that. When he died, I cried with the rest of the family … and I cried alone.


But I did not lose a child; I was not his parent.  He was our pet, and we were his owners …

Continuing to run my errands, with the talk show discussion still haunting me, I stopped by T. J. Maxx.  (I know.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?) Heading straight to the clearance section, I was enjoying myself immensely until …

With tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat, I couldn’t get out of the store fast enough.  My mind was screaming, no, No, NO!  Dogs ARE NOT children with fur!  Pets ARE NOT children … no matter how much we love them.

When did pets stop being pets and become “children?”

Please … Scroll slowly through these pictures and LOOK at them.


How did we let this happen?

Am I the only one who thinks there’s something really wrong here?

Slow down, please.  Look …

Yeah, I know it’s Christmas, and this isn’t a very festive topic …

But the home where these pooches live will have a tree with presents … and a nice Christmas meal.  They’ll even have stockings hung by the chimney with care. Won’t they?

… At what cost to the children?

These are real children.

They’re alone and hungry and exploited … while we sit back and act like they don’t exist.

This is NUTS!


Did you know it’s estimated that Americans spent $47.7 BILLION on pets last year?  In a similar time period, $60 billion was spent on weight loss (and just look how that fixed the U.S. obesity problem).

But what about the children?  Surely we spent more to help them … Nice try. Bad news. We didn’t. The entire amount we gave to children’s charities was approximately 1/2 of what we spent on pets. In fact, last year just under $291 billion was given to ALL charities (and that includes animal charities).

It’s like our society is spinning out of control … and we’re failing our children.

What’s wrong with us?

Do we think if we just ignore the problem, it will go away? That if we ignore the next generation, we’re not responsible for what happens?


Oh, please don’t stop making contributions to children’s charities at Christmas!  There are many wonderful organizations that depend on end-of-year gifts.  I know we at Hope Unlimited for Children certainly do.  In fact, we have to raise 40% of our entire budget during the last three months of the year.

But can you and I afford to let a holiday gift suffice as our valiant once-a-year effort on behalf of the “poor” children?

Does that “take us off the hook” (or assuage our guilt) until next Christmas?  What’s happening to our world’s children in the meantime?

I know the number of children who need us is overwhelming.  Believe me, I do!  But we must never forget that every one of those millions of children is a story yet to be told. Every one of those children needs someone like me … or you … to help them write Hope into their life story.


If the idea of “millions” overwhelms you and leads to inaction (aka doing nothing because you don’t think it will make a difference), then try this. Think ONE.

Think ONE … then do something about it …

ONE gift today to help ONE child.

ONE gift in January to help ONE child.

ONE gift in February to help ONE child.
You know what comes next.

I recently overheard an 82-year-old friend say, “It’s not easy to break a good habit.”  Think about it …

I’m glad your pet has you as its owner because I’m sure you take good care of him.

Will you also you take my challenge?


  • Whatever amount you spend on pets this Christmas — spend at least that amount on a needy child.
  • In 2012, keep a record of all money you spend on your pets.  Set aside (or go ahead and give) at least a like amount to a reputable children’s charity.


*No pet at your house?  No problem!  There’s still at least ONE child who needs you …  Won’t you help make the difference for ONE child today?

Please choose your favorite children’s charity … or click on the link below and join me in supporting mine. The children need us all!

Join me for:
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
Blue Monday at Smiling Sally
Mosaic Monday at Little Red House
Inspiration Friday at At The Picket Fence
Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound

Pic sources:
Child holding bowl
Dogs on tricycle
Child holding doll
All other pics in this post were either taken by me or are used w/ permission of Hope Unlimited for Children.


  1. BRAVO! Well done…if that doesn’t get the message across to people…I don’t know what will! Next time you get an idea in your head to speak about on your blog…blurt it out girl! Don’t just mull it over for a year…that was an inspiring, motivational, honourable posting. xo

  2. SHOUTING…APPLAUDING…SCREAMING AMEN, AMEN…AND STANDING CONVICTED! I am one who has stated that we are missing it…and societies obsession with animals has missed the boat.
    Thanks for bring it all home…for stating the truth and for pointing us in the right direction.

    As for children at Christmas..yes, and grandchildren, well I can only imagine, but for now I am soaking in my Christmas with my last…who is five.

  3. Angry? Upset? No – I’m applauding this post. I work with people, most of whom had terrible, deprived childhoods. If we took half as much care of our children as we our pets, there wouldn’t be a hungry, frightened or homeless child on this continent. I like my animals too – have always had dogs, ducks, hens etc – and love their company – but they are NOT children.
    Thanks for this – I hope people take up your challenge.

  4. A very real dilemma for sure. It is easy to forget those who are not as fortunate as we. Our children have pets that they love very much and we call the furry grandchildren. Hopefully we will have people grandchildren in the next few years. We could and should help the less fortunate. Merry Christmas. V

  5. Wonderfully said! Thank you for tackling a subject that is very important and sadly true. Blessings to you and yours this Christmas season!

  6. What a beautiful and thoughtful post. I give you a big AMEN here!!! Pets do indeed change your life, but children change the world.
    Linda @ A Toile Tale

  7. Excellent!! I agree with all the other ladies above! Have often said this to people and just get blank stares. Now you have provided pictures to prove my point. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  8. Very well done, Susan. My girls got to chose what to give to World Vision (where we sponsor our Juliet in Uganda) and they chose a goat and four ducks! I’m going to show this post to my eleven-year-old. BTW, we love our golden retreiver, Sadie but we don’t put her before helping real children in need. Hopefully, all the people we see with dogs in purses, with jewelery as collars and pushing doggie strollers are also doing their part to help these children around the world, but I doubt it. Maybe they should put images of suffering children right next to images of suffering animals on commercials to try and raise more funds, spure people’s hearts like the animal images do but somehow I think that may not work either. Oh, Jesus, do come soon.

  9. I couldn’t agree more! It’s a sad day when our country treats pets better than children. Great post!

  10. Merry Christmas and always, always bless the children, especially the ones without. ~

  11. AMEN!!!!! If you knew how much I dislike multiple exclamation points, you would understand how strongly I am standing in agreement with this post. It was a gutsy one, too, my friend. It’s the point of view not often shared.

    I heard a guest preacher preach one Sunday on the topic “A people turned upside down”. He began with this very topic.

    I have so much more to say, but you said it better.

  12. Well done!! I am amazed at how God’s Spirit works so harmoniously among His children. I had not read this and there He was leading me to share from Matthew 25 and the least of these. Amazing God we serve, my sister.
    Christmas blessings to you yet again.

  13. You have said this so very well, Susan. With tact, love and from someone who has special pets too. I totally agree!! Merry CHRISTmas!!

  14. Didn’t think it was possible but I like you even more now Susan! 🙂 We aren’t pet owners but we have many people in our lives who are and who also treat their pets like children. I feel sick to my stomach when I see commercials about saving and adopting animals and watch when the news does segments about a neglected cat/dog when we have children (humans!) who are being neglected and abandoned every day! Thank you for having the courage of conviction to write this and hopefully open some eyes to how upside down and ridiculous our world can be. 🙂

  15. Very special post!

    My Entry, happy pink Christmas from my family to yours!

  16. Amen and amen. You said it beautifully and spot on. What is it that that song says ~ something like “save the trees and kill the children ” ~ {can’t remember the artist but the song lyrics stay with you}
    Thank you for your words.

  17. I thought I had commented when I read this before. Thank you for speaking from your heart. I have always loved my pets, too, but I love my children, and the children of my children, on a whole different level. Blessings to you. This is a great post- xo Diana

  18. Wow…really sobering. I didn’t see this last holiday. Glad you resurrected it! It is clear that you have a very strong passion for the well-being of children. They truly are the innocent parties in everything going on around them. I think what many tend to forget is that those who are children now will someday, God willing, live to be adults. What we do with/for/on behalf of children now will shape their future as adults…the very same adults who will be caring for US in our old age!!! I’m not a pet owner, so I don’t really understand the whole pets-as-children phenomenon. I do know that they bring great comfort and joy to a great many people and are sometimes the only living, breathing entity in some people’s lives who seem to care about them. For that, I am glad, especially for the elderly or shut-ins whose children ignore them or little kids who are left to their own devices by parents who aren’t or can’t (as in hard-working single Moms) be there for them all the time. Spending a small fortune to give that pet a rock star life, though, is kind of beyond me. I do hope that one day…one day very, very soon…the same passion for rhinestone-studded dog bowls and down kitty pillows will be warranted for children who just need “three hots and a cot” as a basic standard of living.

  19. This is a beautiful but thought provoking post. Thank you for reposting. I didn’t see it the first time. I think most people love animals and cherish them as companions. Our children are a totally different thing. They are a part of us as mankind and as such we have a tremendous responsibility to nurture them giving them a chance to become better than we. I have seen a lot in my 72 years and it breaks my heart to see how our culture is opting out of our most basic responsibilities…to love and care for the little ones Jesus ordered brought to him. Would we be ashamed to bring the children in those pictures to him and answer for their condition. I pray we would.
    Thanks again, Ginger

  20. Well done, Susan. Couldn’t agree more. I think that for most people, who typically carry a lot of unresolved pain and burdens in their hearts, it becomes easier to love an animal, safer for some. Through God’s Spirit, I feel compassion for them although I know the priorities are completely wrong. Although God’s Word says that He cares for animals too (“Your righteousness is like the great mountains; Your judgments are a great deep; o Lord, You preserve man and beast.”~Psalm 36:6), He made man, not beast, in His image.
    I loved reading this again today. Good pick for your medals. 🙂
    Much love!

  21. We all seem to know what is the right thing to do in life but often we don’t follow that path. So it is nice when someone actually opens your eye to the reality and after reading your article Susan i am going to to what i promised myself last year. Always an inspiration to read something that comes straight from the heart. Thanks and take care.

  22. You have delivered the message well. So many have no concept to priorities, compassion and love.