A chance to see ‘that look’

Published 9:46 pm Thursday, November 11, 2010

When you’ve looked at as many pictures as I have during the course of my 10-year career as a graphic designer, it gets difficult to see anything more than color corrections that need to be made. But every now and then, I can actually see a picture, really see the subjects as people and their situations as real lives happening.

Lately, I have been affected by some very poignant photographs in the Suffolk News-Herald.

A case in point was news editor Tracy Agnew’s story on Operation Christmas Child, which appeared on the Faith and Family page Oct. 23. I’ve known about the project for a while, and I’ve even laid out pages that addressed the project in the past. But somehow, this time around, the photographs that accompanied the story really struck a nerve with me.

Email newsletter signup

For those who didn’t see the story, the photographs show children receiving shoeboxes full of gifts that people send to other countries through the Operation Christmas Child program. For me, the looks on the faces of those young people are the most genuine and thankful that I’ve seen in many years.

It seems as if those of us fortunate enough to be surrounded with the resources to get gifts from our loved ones at Christmas come to take it for granted. Some of us come to downright expect it. It may not be something that happens on purpose — as we are all so busy in this world to acknowledge the little gifts we get everyday — but it happens nonetheless.

But the looks on the faces of those needy children in foreign countries reminded me of what it was like to be a child in my mother’s home. Christmas Day had all the conventional excitement that most would expect with four children running around. And even though we didn’t have much, the space beneath the Christmas tree was always packed full of gifts for all of us.

At the end of the day, after all the clamoring and fighting over presents settled down and we were all tuckered out, my mother would ask us if we were happy. We’d all say “yes,” and she would always say, “Then it was worth it.”

So I guess it was the looks on our faces that made it worth all the trouble for her. Seeing the photographs of those children was my first chance to feel a small sample of what my mother must have felt on Christmas.

So just for the chance of being the cause of that look on one child’s face, hopefully to be captured in a photograph for me to see, I think I’ll pack a box this year.

For more information on Operation Christmas Child, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.