Monday, December 15, 2014

Annual PSA

Every year, I write a post on giving during the holidays. This year is no different. However, since I'm pre-publishing right now with the kids in town, I'm reworking an article I wrote earlier in the month for a newspaper gig I have...

It’s the holidays, and you know I do love the holidays. The lights. The colors. The music. The food. Laughter, friends, and goodwill. Traditions that have spanned longer than I’ve been alive, and that just started last year. I love it all. Especially the traditions.

A few years back, Lithus and I were in pretty bad shape financially. Really bad shape, actually. My Mac sat down to do her charitable giving that year and, instead of giving to the ASPCA, she gave to us. $100. Now, it doesn’t seem like much. That year? It was a ridiculous amount of money. What none of us realized, though, was a tradition was born.

Every year since then, Lithus and I have given $100 in her name. We’ve given to individuals, a family, organizations, even once the innkeepers of a place we’d been staying, when we learned they were on food stamps. That $100 in My Mac’s name has become part of our holiday tradition.

Another tradition of mine is to buy a toothbrush and full-sized toothpaste every time I go to the store from November 1st through Christmas. Sometimes, that’s once a week. Sometimes, it’s every day. However often, though, I buy a toothbrush and toothpaste. Between Yule and Christmas, I find a homeless shelter wherever I am, and deliver them. Lithus is British Canadian, so he grew up with a strong sense of Boxing Day being the day to make charitable donations. For him, it was gloves, scarfs, socks, underwear. The small things people tend to forget about. We have combined our two traditions quite nicely, and now deliver my toothbrushes and his gloves on December 26th.

My point is holiday traditions don’t have to be about turkey or beef for dinner. Or the chorale concert you always attend. Or decorating the tree with your friends and too much eggnog. Don’t get me wrong – I have those traditions, too, and I love them. But holiday traditions can be about more than that, too.

If you have a tradition of giving, great. If you don’t, it’s never too late – or too soon – to start one:

  • Give in honor or in memory of someone. A teacher who supported you. The friend who was always there. The sister who loans you her skirts (even if she draws the line at her shoes). The brother who taught you to tie a necktie.
  • Give your time. Not all of us have the financial resources to give money. Believe me, I get that. Contact your local food bank, or animal shelter. Find your local LBGTQ organization, domestic violence shelter, or day shelter. They will have ways you can donate your time, knowledge, empathy, muscles, brains, and passion. Whatever cause is dear to your heart, you can donate your time to it.
  • Combine traditions. Invite your friends over to decorate the tree and drink too much eggnog ~ and ask that everyone bring a single toy, stick of deodorant, full-sized toiletry, or jar of peanut butter. Pick a theme and ask everyone to bring one of that thing. The goal is to reach critical mass – have a small pile of something, without anyone having to spend more than they have, or feel bad because they couldn’t afford much.

And that’s how traditions are made. Which is far more interesting than just a list of things you can donate. HOWEVER! If you’re looking for that list, I have those suggestions as well. 

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.