When you read the sentiments on the Wish Wall at the Christmas Village at Love Park, a quiet parade of hopes and fears passes by on the cork bulletin board in front of you.
No Pinterest here — the messages are written by passers-by the old-fashioned way, with magic marker on an “ornament” that looks like a flat-as-a-pancake version of a Christmas tree ball. Each ornament costs $4, with $1 of that price going to two local chapters of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The wishes on the Love Park wall reflect so much about our time and region, and because those who wrote them have long since left the plaza, one can only wonder at the backstory behind each one:
“Wish for unemployment curse to be broken.”
“I wish that Allison’s eyes are okay and cancer free.”
“Merry Christmas to victims of the Philippines typhoon.”
“I wish that I get to stay in Philadelphia and do what I love.”
“My wish is for the world to be more accepting.”
“I wish to make new friends.”
Any one of these thoughts could be the thread that unspools into a touching tale.
Of the 200 messages posted in the weeks before Christmas, not one of them asked for more money, a bigger house or a new car in 2014. Nor was there a request for that most famous Christmas toy — an official Red Ryder BB gun.
Instead, they reflected the continuing concern about the Great Recession, which, though officially over, continues to have a deep impact on many of our lives. They show that some diseases, most of nature and often what work we get to do remain out of our control. And though our nation and our city, down through history, have moved inexorably toward acceptance, there are many people who still feel excluded.
The growing diversity of the city is evident, too — about 10 percent of the messages are written in languages other than English.
Since Philadelphia is nothing if not a big sports town, one wish, written on a green- and-white ornament, was for “An Eagles Super Bowl. Go Birds.”
But perhaps the most poignant message, given what holiday is celebrated at this time of year, was this simple one:
“To have a healthy, happy baby in 2013.”
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