Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Starfish and Santa

Thanksgiving is over and world-wide, thoughts are turning to Christmas. By all accounts (that I've read anyway), Black Friday put a lot of retailers in the black this year. Hustle, bustle, spend that money! Does this come in Dad's size? How many toys can we fit under the tree? What's Mom into these days?

For a lot of people, Christmas is about family and friends. There's nothing wrong with that, but for a lot of other people, Christmas is about doing without. Another day like any other day, with not-enough food, clothing that doesn't quite fit or isn't warm enough, or a home that needs repair. The holiday just points out the differences to them between the "haves" and the "have-nots".

No stuffin'
Yes... this is me last year. Since Z-boy was old enough to understand the concept of buying toys (from early on), we have gone shopping for Toys for Tots. Last year we added the costume to make it even more fun - not just for us, but for other shoppers. We would set out with a specific amount of money, and Z would get to choose the toys. His choices have matured over the years so that he not only goes for the boy-toys, but he thinks about the little girls too - and whether or not those kids are warm enough.

I believe we are ready to take this to another level.

This morning there was an article on the editorial page: Make a difference this Christmas. The article started out talking about the Starfish Story, which I'd never heard of but is apparently a quite common parable/myth/morality play. It then went on to describe how the author's office adopted a family each year and the satisfaction they got from doing this good deed, and how everyone ought to consider doing something like that. I agree. There are plenty of agencies out there who keep tabs on families that need help, and I would encourage each of you to call or visit and see what you might be able to do.

Starfish on beach

One day, a man was taking a stroll on a beach and saw a human figure in the distance moving like a dancer. As he neared, he discovered that it was a young man who was not dancing at all, but bending over and then gently tossing small objects into the ocean.

As he came closer still, he called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you're doing?"

The young man paused, looked up and replied, "Throwing starfish back into the ocean."

"Why?" asked the older man.

"The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

The older man shook his head. "There are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile. You can't possibly make a difference!"

The young man picked up an other starfish and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, the young man said, "It made a difference for that one."

Starfish trek

We can't save everyone - but we can make a huge difference in the lives of the ones we can help.

I'm planning to use this story to illustrate to my son that point. As I said, we've done a bit, but we're ready to do something more.


S William said...

My wife and I always try to personally find a couple of families in need. Last year we gave $150 to a lady who had six kids and her husband left her. She couldn't pay the electric bill. She cried when we gave her the check. I looked to the Heavens, asking if there was anything else I could do. I immediately went to work, and received a bonus check out of the blue. I saw that as a sign, and gave it to the women.

My wife and I weren't always givers. But we found there is an amazing amount that we receive when we give.

Anonymous said...

"It made a difference for that one." Lovely! I really like that.

I'm trying to teach the boys about charity this year. It's hard, because we're so very priviledged. But I agree, it's an important lesson.

Anonymous said...

It can be especially powerful to give the things to the parents so they can be the heroes in their childrens eyes.

Anonymous said...

At my school we have something called the Jesse tree. I'm not quite sure it got that name. Anyway, we submit the names of kids we deem needy in our classes. In theory there are always many so it's hard to pick and choose. The chosen kids are then given a gift, usually clothes, for the holiday season.

Apricoco said...

I use that story sometimes in my work. I am a fundraiser for a large non-profit so I know how important giving back is. I am training my husband on this right now too... charity wasn't a big part of his makeup when we met but now between the two of us we give over a thousand dollars back to the community each year. I know to some people that isn't a lot but, like I said I work for a non-profit so you do the math on that one... But seriously, taking him to see where the money actually goes and who it benefits has really helped him understand how important it is. Also, each year we both choose a child from the Salvation Army's Angel Tree and buy all the toys we can for that boy/girl. He really likes that. He is a work in progress... =)

Kudos to you for doing the same thing for your son, the earlier they learn about giving back, the better!

nikki said...

i think your giving tradition with z-boy is wonderful and it gives me a great idea with what to do with aaron when he is old enough to understand.