Good morning and Happy Monday my friends! Are you in the throes of the holiday rush yet or are you just easing into it with a little shopping here, a little cleaning there, because you’re one of those preternaturally calm people who think know think it’ll all get done?
Me, I create my own chaos. I love the holiday season. I love the decorating and the baking and the wrapping and I love cramming it all in to a four week period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I get a little giddy – and that’s before I’ve hit the “Special Nog”*
The thing I love the most, though, is the shopping, although perhaps not for the reason you might think. Don’t get me wrong, anyone who knows me will tell you that shopping is my favorite sport, but at Christmas time it’s different. I love giving presents, absolutely love it. It’s my favorite part of the holiday season. I love finding things that someone I know and love would be crazy about or could really use. There’s no better feeling than putting a smile on another person’s face. I would give gifts all year long except that it can make the recipient feel a. uncomfortable b. like they have to reciprocate (which is so not the point), not to mention I’d probably end up on a breadline.
In any case, this sort of brings me to the point I’d like to make (I do have one). One of the reasons I love Christmas, is that for me, it represents a feeling, not something I can see or touch or hold in my hand (Yes, I am a Who. I live in Whoville. Pleased to make your acquaintance).
That feeling manifests itself in the way people treat each other. People smile more despite the hubbub and are just generally nicer to one another. So why not try to spread that feeling around to as many people as we can possibly reach?
Take a look at your list of people for whom you’re planning to buy a gift. I’m willing to wager that at least 95% of the people on it do not need more “stuff”. Here’s an idea, take the money you were going to spend on a gift and find a cause you deem worthy, or one you know the giftee supports, and make a donation in their name. Plant a tree in someone’s honor. Some charities, like UNICEF, sell Holiday cards that include a donation. But if that doesn’t appeal, it’s just as easy to shop online for a reputable charity as it is Amazon.com. (Oh, and by the way, you can designate a charity on Amazon and they will donate a portion of your purchase to that charity every time you log on through their Amazon Smile program. Painless giving. There are also other sites, like iGive, that basically do the same thing.) They all accept major credit cards.
Beware the shady organizations, the ones you’ve never heard of that are constantly making emotional appeals for donations and handing out address labels as enticements. Don’t get me wrong, there are legitimate charities that use this practice and it’s a shame that it’s difficult to tell the difference, so do your research before giving them any of your hard earned money. Oh, and those labels are yours to keep regardless. They are a ‘gift’. It’s up to you what you choose to do with them and how much guilt you feel.
If the above options don’t appeal, like Bombas socks and Toms shoes – both “buy a pair, give a pair” sellers – or BOS (Balls of Steel) which sells unique whisky and wine chillers that support Men’s Health Issues, particularly testicular cancer**.
You may have already finished your shopping, but there are still things you can do. Make room in your closet by giving not just last season’s shorts, but those coats in the back that no one has worn for at least two years. Clean out your kitchen cabinets and give to a local food bank. (But give the good stuff, not just that lonely can of lima beans with an end date of 2010.) Raid the piggy bank then drop the change into a bell-ringers kettle. If you have a lot of it, drop it all over town, at every shopping center you visit. You know you have to walk past them anyway. Spread the wealth and brighten the day of someone who probably gets ignored more often than not.
Last, but by no means least, you can give the gift of you. Volunteer your time, if you have any to spare. If not at Christmas time, when everyone feels just that wee bit more charitable, then make the gift of you, a gift to you for the new year.
How about you, do you have any holiday plans or traditions that involve giving back? Are there any ideas that I’ve missed? Have a great week. See you Saturday for part three of “Foolish Notion”
*a family tradition started by my late father. Save the dregs of any liquor bottles all year to put into the egg nog. (Some of you may have already heard of “Special Nog” *winkwinknudgenudge*)
**I’m not affiliated with nor compensated by any org. or co. mentioned in this post