I am not a grinch, really, I am not. But I am getting a bit tired of the faux charity of the season. I say faux charity as it seems to very wide and not very deep. The time just before Thanksgiving through Christmas is the time when every charitable organization (and many not so charitable ones) do their fund raising. They know this is the time of year that we in the U.S. open our wallets and our hearts – just a little. Compared to the amount of money we spend on ourselves and on our elaborate Christmases what we give to those beyond ourselves is paltry. I have come to suspect that our holiday charity is often a way to fool ourselves into not noticing how much we are lavishing on ourselves and others who have so much already.
This is also the time of year when health and senior facilities are inundated with groups wanting to come in to entertain and gives gifts to residents. Food pantries and meal programs receive lots of support “so everyone can have Christmas dinner.” So far so good.
My problem is summed up in the question – “but what about the rest of the year?” are we as willing to be charitable in March, May August and September? Are we willing in these non-Christmas times to share our time and resources with others? From my years as a Nursing Home chaplain I know a church or community choir coming to sing in March or September would be even more welcome and well received than they are in December.
Feeding programs can use help and contributions for their clients who need food the other 11 months of the year. And despite the fact that there are no bell ringers at the malls or as many solicitations arriving in the mail – there isn’t a charitable organization I know that could not use and would not welcome a non-Christmas donation anytime during the year.
My prescription is for us to intentionally make charity (whose root is the Latin word meaning love) a 12 month event on each of our planning calendars and in our budgets. Look at which causes you wish to offer your loving support with your time and energy and with your resources. And make those planned donations each and every month. And when you can, do a little extra. Do it because it is good for US to be generous, to look beyond ourselves and our families. In general it makes us happier and healthier to be generous. And it makes the lives of others better around the world when we loosen our grip on that overly large proportion of the world’s resources Americans enjoy. While it sounds to some like a trite phrase it is also true the we should “Live simply so that others may simply live.” And lets plan to do it the other 11 months of the year. Then we would really know what it means to have a Blessed Christmas.