’twas the day before the day before Christmas

that’s right – it’s the day before the day before Christmas. and we still have gifts that aren’t wrapped. our real Christmas tree has stopped drinking water now for a few days, so we’re pretty certain it’s dead. we got a fish at a white elephant part last night and it died within six hours. so all in all, it’s been a pretty successful season thus far.

i find it ironically unfunny that people in general only get into the giving spirit during “the holidays.” it tends to be the season that non-profits get the most donations – some of them good, some of them junk. (the donations, that is, not the non-profits – though i’m sure there are some junky ones out there.)

and this, in my opinion, is a shame. because non-profits are doing work to help others all through the year, and in some ways, Christmas must be the most inconvenient time of the year to receive a bunch of last-minute gifts, what with vacation days and office closings.

yes, believe it or not, but people who work for non-profits don’t just live there – they have real lives too. i know, crazy, right? but you’d be surprised by the amount of people that this doesn’t seem to register with.

i have to imagine the conversations go something like this-

NPO Worker: Hello?
Clueless Donor: Hey, I have a bunch of gifts I want to bring.
NPO Worker: Okay, great – our donation center will be open tomorrow at 11 am.
Clueless Donor: Oh, well, I’ll be out of town. Can’t I just bring them tonight, like, around 8 pm?
NPO Worker: Our offices will be closing at 4 today due to the holidays, I’m afraid, so there won’t be anyone here. (the NPO Worker is too nice to mention that their offices close at 5:30 normally.)
Clueless Donor: (getting upset) Man, you guys really don’t want any help, do you?!
NPO Worker: …um…no, it’s not that. Okay, um, let me see what I can do.

and maybe i’m wrong. maybe the conversations don’t go like that. but i have to imagine they do to pass the time if nothing else.

i guess my point is this – if we were really so social-minded, so giving a culture, then wouldn’t we give year-round and not just during one month of the year? if we were to spread out those resources, how many more people could be helped instead of (potentially) gifts going to waste?

after all, neediness and poverty and hunger don’t disappear at New Year’s. instead, we treat it as a check list item – in other words, we make giving to an NPO an end-of-year goal so that we don’t feel so rotten about how self-centered we really are. but by giving to an NPO to feel better about ourselves, it actually makes us even MORE self-centered. and then New Year’s comes and the cycle repeats.

i’m not better than anyone else. but i am thankful i grew up in a family and community where giving was taught not as a seasonal activity, but simply as a way of life. not as a way to feel good about yourself, but a way to genuinely help someone who needs help. and i think that’s why i notice these things – not because i came up with the viewpoint, but because it was passed on to me. and now i think it’s part of my job to pass it on to others.

i’m not saying give up half of your salary to your local animal shelter – unless that’s something you can afford to do, i guess, and if that’s your thing. i’m saying it’s important to find a bunch of little ways to give throughout the year. buy a friend a meal. leave a little cash on a struggling friend’s windshield and don’t leave your name on it. give a homeless person some odd jobs to do so that they can work. volunteer your time at an inner-city school, or an outer-city school, or a foster care agency, or something.

stop wasting time every day reading crappy “blogs” like this one and help change the world. and then write, write, write. because the words you give the world could help change it too.

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