This has been a tough year for our family, but we're sticking to our holiday traditions: great big old tree; kitten climbing the tree and causing havoc; Christmas Eve pageant at our church, and then dinner with my husband's family; stockings filled to the brim with ridiculous things like toothbrushes and oranges and hair accessories and tacky magazines and paperback books; presents under the kitten-savaged tree.
One of our family traditions, however, I almost let slip. For years now, we've had each kid choose a charity during the holiday season. Then we send part of the money we would have used on the kids' Christmas presents to those organizations.
For some reason, I didn't want to do it this year. I wanted to spend ththe entire Christmas budget on my kids, not on animals or people we don't know. After all, it's been a tough year for us. We could all use some extra goodies.
My reaction puzzled me, because I think of myself as a generous person. So I sat with my ugly unwillingness for a while, wondering what was underneath it.
Eventually, I realized that I was feeling closed up, fearful, unwilling to let go of what we have and resentful of people who have more.
Okay, brutal honesty time? That is a sucky place to be. A soul-killing place to be. A big old nasty Grinch place to be. Plus, it's no fun. And I don't intend to stay there.
Both kids want their donation to go the Oregon Humane Society.
I want my personal donation to go to Mercy Corps, a Portland, Oregon-based relief organization that operates all over the world. Their projects that provide clean drinking water to villagers in Liberia are particularly dear to my heart--our city had a tainted water issue this past weekend, and I realized, perhaps for the first time, just how much we take clean water for granted.
My husband's undecided at this point, but in the past, his dollars have gone to an organization that brightens the holidays for local families in need.
My parents loved Heifer International, which may be one of the best known hunger-relief projects in the world. Our daughters have donated money in our names several times, and it is a fabulous present to receive.
If this sort of arms-length giving doesn't work for you, you could follow the lead of my Older Brother #2: He visited a local liquidation and deep-discount store, bargained up a storm, and bought 50 raincoats and 50 mylar blankets. Then he added power bars and bottles of water, and made up 50 bags that he's keeping in his car and handing out to homeless people all over town. That's awesome, and it would be just as awesome to do 5 bags, if that's where your budget is.
How about you? I'm looking forward to reading your ideas for charitable giving.
And as always, if you have a question for Mrs. Ditter, just leave it in the comments section.