The toys we buy at Christmastime
(The decorations, too),
Don’t come from elves in Santa’s shop,
As we’ve been told they do.

The “Made in China” label can
Be found upon these wares,
And points to one of modern man’s
Most scandalous affairs.

They’re made by Chinese workers in
Conditions most unjust,
Who work for fourteen hours a day,
Or longer, if they must.

They work for seven days a week
And breaks are pretty rare;
They breathe in noxious fumes that fill
The hot and stifling air.

They live right in the factory
In small and filthy rooms,
Where they get just a few hours’ sleep
Before their work resumes.

The workers’ pay is woefully
Below the living wage.
How is it that we let this be
In our “enlightened” age?

The goods are cheap and plentiful,
But buyers may not know
What Chinese workers must endure
To keep the prices low.

It isn’t elves who make the toys;
The truth is not so nice.
Convenience and economy
Come at a heavy price.


Father Richard Libby is a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi.

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7 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    Powerful and thought-provoking, Father.
    Very well-written.
    I thought I was in for something like a nursery rhyme!

  2. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    This is really a fine example of finding exactly the right form as a vehicle for the message, showing that it is indeed possible to attain a kind of perfection in our art. Personally speaking, this poem has inspired me to pray for the conversion of China.

  3. David Paul Behrens

    We are lucky we live in a democratic society which was able to enact labor laws. Whereas in China, ruled by a communist dictatorship, they have no such laws.
    We should count our blessings. Good poem, Father.

  4. David Watt

    An excellent poem which brings into focus a truth many choose to overlook.

  5. Wendy Bourke

    This is very impactful … and very sad. I try to purchase ethically, but really, labels are no guarantee that an item has been produced without atrocities tied to the price tag. This is a well rendered, thoughtful and edifying poem … an important piece.


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