Vent post – read at your own risk!
‘Tis the season for charity. People volunteer at soup kitchens, buy gifts for angel tree kids, and donate to worthy causes. It’s a feel-good thing, and it’s the holidays, right? Not to mention the last big opportunity for a tax write-off. It’s great! It’s warm and fuzzy, and for some of us, it’s a wonderful way to help our kids learn to be compassionate.
I hate it.
Yes, I said it
I don’t hate the charities, of course. I hate the fakeness – the convenience of it. It’s a warm fuzzy – to make us feel good about ourselves. Here’s the thing – what about the rest of the year?
I intensely dislike holidays putting the focus on something we should be doing all the time into one single day. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s … get the idea? We should show love and appreciation all year long, not just on one day. And we do, most of us, but the underlying message is that this is the ONE day that’s important. They’re all important. In fact, the bad days are the days we need the most support, not the holidays.
Don’t put on a show
I also have an intense dislike for things done for show – it feels dishonest. Hey, look at us! We did that good thing to help the less fortunate out, aren’t we so amazing? That’s the wrong lesson to send our kids for sure. I’m not saying ‘don’t do that good thing,’ I’m saying do it for the right reasons, and don’t just do it now. Do it after Christmas. Then do it again, until it becomes a habit of helping people out.
I grew up poor, so maybe I’m more sensitive to this dynamic. We live now in a very affluent area where parents give their kid a Mustang to drive to school (my neighbor) and it’s normal to have a house cleaner that comes every week to clean the bathrooms (my other neighbors.) It’s really weird for me – my first car was the old run-down family minivan, and I was the one cleaning houses.
All the right reasons
Charity shouldn’t be done to make you feel good. Or to show your kids how fortunate they are. Charity and volunteering are acts of love – love for people you’ve never even met. Because it’s the humane thing to do: helping others.
The soup kitchen doesn’t close up shop after Thanksgiving and Christmas – it’s always there, helping those who need it. The foster kids who need Christmas gifts don’t disappear either – they might need a big brother or big sister to be their friend and mentor. Those kids on the angel tree – I’m betting that their families may need the assistance of a food bank throughout the year, especially during the summer when kids aren’t in school.
Look, I’m not saying skip the generosity of the season. I’m saying – make it Christmas all year. Make a New Year’s resolution (if you do that sort of thing) to be present in your community and show love. If you already are, go you!