Here in Thailand the second Saturday of January is a national holiday. It is Children’s Day. Schools, government agencies (at least some of them) and numerous businesses have a party to make children feel important in line with the slogan “Children are the future of the nation.”
It would be foolish to try to make a casual trip to the zoo or any of the malls today. The crowds would be intimidating. But children will be thrilled to get little toys or souvenirs, treats to eat and sweets to drink.
Here in our village we combined our resources to have a local party on Children’s Day. From the looks of it, all families with small children brought them, and some neighbors came from nearby villages, too. Not everything was about what the kids got. Several of the children were ready to perform on the stage. There were games with prizes and ongoing refreshments. The climax of the evening was an extensive drawing for “door” prizes including two bicycles and countless smaller items. Everybody got something.
These parties are going on all over the country. There must be tens of thousands of parties for little children altogether. In fact, the festivities are spread over two days.
I want to reflect on our village party. The work of putting up the temporary stage was handled by older young people. They were busy all afternoon. Fried rice was cooked by the housewives association. The day began with a collection of money that was publicized over the village public address system. As the names of donors and amounts were read, it sounded like people were being generous.
From smaller beginnings a few decades ago the party has grown. There are no signs that Children’s Day will diminish. Children are highly valued and given special treatment and consideration. There is no hesitation about supporting events for children and making sure they are secure. It is clear, as well, that the credit and responsibility for all this is vested in the clan (the extended family) and also in the local community. The only thing that can jeopardize the care and concern shown to little children is collapse of the extended family and deterioration of village society.
January 10 is Children’s Day this year, but every day is “children’s day” as far this village is concerned.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.