Video of Santa questioning 'naughty or nice' labels is a moving statement on mental health

Most depictions of Santa Clause fall along the traditional narrative we know and love. We see the rotund, bearded fellow making a list and checking it twice. With a twinkle in his eye, we expect him to ponder each child's behavior for the year and place them into a category—naughty or nice—to determine their deservedness in getting a gift.


Though there's obviously no jolly, omniscient figure putting children into binary categories, there are plenty of adults who do just that. If a kid doesn't conform to a specific standard of behavior, they're "naughty." If they say the right words, do the right things, and don't cause any trouble, they're "nice." Children are categorized and labeled—some good, some bad—and those labels often follow them throughout their lives.

But such a simplistic view doesn't square with what we actually know about children and behavior. Kids—and all humans, really—are not that cut and dry. People of all ages are complex, nuanced, and multi-faceted, and motivations for people's behavior rarely fall neatly into "naughty" or "nice." There's a whole range of reasons why people do the things they do.

RELATED: A huge thanks to those who openly share their mental illnesses. You saved my daughter.

That's the premise behind a new video released by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In it, we see Santa sitting on a rooftop, contemplating the categories he's used for 1000 years, in a surprisingly moving soliloquy about labels and children.

"I think I did this all wrong," he begins, before pondering how his habit of "reducing these growing, varied, intricate beings to some binary code of this or that, naughty or nice" might actually be doing them harm. "As if some kids son't have enough to worry about, only to have me judge them without context, without perspective, without any sort of doctorate psychology—honorary or otherwise."

"Did I condemn every kid who already felt like a misfit toy?" he asks. "Naughty or nice? Isn't it possible that they're nervous or nice? Uncomfortable-in-their-own-skin or nice? I'm-angry-and-I-don't-know-why or nice? My-impulses-are-beyond-my-control or nice? Hurting or nice?"

"And who can blame them?" he ponders. "With the news, the lockdown drills, the internet, the world is bearing down on them. And we expect these struggling kids to just...what? Speak when spoken to?"

"Show me an interesting, fully formed person and I'll show you a once difficult child," Santa continues, asking what would happen if we looked at kids in a whole different light.

RELATED: A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents.

It's not your typical Santa video, but it certainly has a magic of its own. To see children as layered beings instead of good or bad, naughty or nice, is perhaps the best gift we can give them.

Watch a contemplative Ol' St. Nick share his thoughts on the "naughty" or "nice" question, and prepare to have your feelings meter moved a few notches.

NAMI - “Naughty Or…" www.youtube.com

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

4-year-old New Zealand boy and police share toys.

Sometimes the adorableness of small children is almost too much to take.

According to the New Zealand Police, a 4-year-old called the country's emergency number to report that he had some toys for them—and that's only the first cute thing to happen in this story.

After calling 111 (the New Zealand equivalent to 911), the preschooler told the "police lady" who answered the call that he had some toys for her. "Come over and see them!" he said to her.

The dispatcher asked where he was, and then the boy's father picked up. He explained that the kids' mother was sick and the boy had made the call while he was attending to the other child. After confirming that there was no emergency—all in a remarkably calm exchange—the call was ended. The whole exchange was so sweet and innocent.

But then it went to another level of wholesome. The dispatcher put out a call to the police units asking if anyone was available to go look at the 4-year-old's toys. And an officer responded in the affirmative as if this were a totally normal occurrence.

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