This Christmas/holiday season I hereby issue a challenge:
Don't buy anything for your loved ones!
Pretty crazy, I know, but hear me out.
Today I finally got around to tackling a task I really don't like doing, which is clearing our kitchen table. It's basically a catchall for junk mail and random doodads that we don't know what to do with just yet. I avoid it as often as possible, but eventually it has to be done. Anyhow, as I was clearing out, I stumbled upon a World Vision gift catalogue. Intrigued, I put it aside while I finished my task at hand.
After finishing, I decided to thumb through the catalogue; what I saw brought me to tears. Even talking to my fiance about it 10 minutes later caused me to break down in tears, yet again. Sure, commercials can make me cry, but that's beside the point. Did you know, that for $30CAD, you can give 10 children the gift of health? For $35CAD, you can give 3 families the gift of self-reliance. Forty five dollars gives the gift of literacy, education, independence, the chance for freedom to a classroom full of children. For only $100CAD, you can give entire communities the gift of life.
So little is needed to give so much to so many people. How many of us have a wish list of things that we want for our birthdays or Christmas (or whatever gift giving celebration you participate in)? How many of us are fretting, thinking, "Oh, god! What am I going to get Mom and Dad this year?" How many of us get nauseated at the idea of having to brave yet another mall excursion to get a $50 toy for your kid, who already has a room full of toys, and who may only play with that toy a half dozen times - if even that much?
Okay yes, not actually getting anything for your kids (the ones who aren't grown, at any rate) may seem a bit harsh, but I do encourage you to think about how much you're willing to spend on everyone, and how much of an impact even a fraction of what you will spend this year will have on people who really do need our help.
How about this? Instead of not buying anyone any gifts this holiday season, consider making a donation to World Vision, or whatever organization you wish to donate to in the name of at least one person on your list. Chances are, they will be moved that someone loved them enough to save a bunch of people in their name.
PS: I have the pleasure of getting to know a person by the name of Cathy on Facebook. She has a business page called Cathy's Creations and she knows, perhaps more than most, the joy helping someone can bring. She puts a fair bit of time (I'm assuming, judging by how many packages she sends out on a weekly basis) into making beautiful bracelets (among many other things). One line of bracelets she makes are "Cause Jewelery". Proceeds from the bracelets goes to various (American) health organizations, children's charities (usually for a specific child who has to spend much of their short life fighting cancer or some other life threatening condition), or awareness efforts. She has touched many, many lives, brought joy and hope to many children and their families, and has inspired a lot of us to get off our duffs and do the same.
I've been off work for nearly 8 months now, but I'm going back soon. One of the first things I'm going to do with my first paycheque is buy a coat for the man who sits outside my local grocery store. I don't know his name, or what brought him to his current situation (though, I can't help but wonder how much he would benefit from more efforts/funding for social housing in our city) but I do know that he is kind to my son, and doesn't have a clean coat to keep him warm and dry. That's all I need to know.
I can't help but wonder if I would have been inspired to do this, had it not been for the inspiration we get from all the kind, selfless, wonderful things she does for so many people. I'm not Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan or Buddhist, but truly believe that Cathy is doing something that transcends humanity.