How will you express your inner-Giver this season? Do you donate to a major charity? Do you serve food in a soup kitchen? Is your generosity something private that you do without recognition or do you hand the guy on the corner a dollar whenever you drive by?
Not only do I want to know what you do, but how you do it, why you do it, and a story about your activity and how it made you feel.
This is something I'm having a little trouble with this year. We are not rich, but usually we're at least comfortable enough to put a couple of hundred dollars into giving something back this time of year. Between several financial issues this past year, we are not that comfortable this year - and I am casting about for some way to give back without putting too much hurt on us at the same time.
In past years, my husband and I have worked hard to instill the joy of giving in our son. Since he was little, we would involve him in our efforts. At first he didn't quite get it. Then I hit on the idea of dressing up as Santa, dressing him as an elf - and we would go shopping for Toys for Tots.
I asked him to think about what he might like, what he might find important if we didn't have a home or very little money. I also asked him to think about if he was a girl what might appeal to him. He got very good at picking out comforting toys for the majority, with a few whiz-bang kind of toys thrown in. We would put everything in a big bag and drop it off at either a drop-off station or go directly to the Marine's building to drop it off in their gymnasium. This fulfilled my need to teach my boy and give back to the community - but it was also a lot of fun. The costume would draw comments from other shoppers and checkers, but my favorite was coming around a corner in ToysRUs to find a sleepy little girl nodding in a cart while her mom was looking at something. She spotted me out of the nearly-closed eyes which popped open wide and in a stage whisper told her mom, "Mommy! Santa and the Elves SHOP here!!!" Mom whirled around and spotted us. I explained that there were so many requests this year that the elves were working overtime already and I was just trying to lighten the load a little. Then I asked the little girl what she wanted for Christmas (Mom was having a tough time). I always made it a policy to never touch the children, but waved to them and talked to them. Sometimes I'd get a hug, if the parents said okay - and sometimes the parents hugged me too. That it was a female voice coming out of the beard never seemed to bother anyone. And my son got to see it all.
The last couple of years, he's been a little embarrassed by the suit, so we just went as people to do our shopping - but he got the point. It's not about the suit, it's about the giving.
So to this year... I don't have money to spare, but I do have skills! During a big cleanout of my closets, I discovered quite a lot of remnant material - and a pattern for making teddy bears. So I think this year, I will be making teddy bears to give to Toys for Tots rather than buying stuff. My son can help me dress them and make them special. And he can learn that you can give, even if you don't have money to donate.
Now go visit these other giving people and see what they've got up their sleeves for the holiday season!!!
Margaret (the Misanthrope)
P.S. Cynical Girl is going to be our host for next week!