Have you seen this video?
It basically sums up, in a visual display I don’t have the time to recreate, and with a stronger and more concrete argument than I can currently formulate, why I am not doing much shopping this year for Christmas. Josef keeps asking what I want for Christmas, and I’ve only come up with one thing: an apron for when I cook. But, I could totally live without it.
A few years ago, when anyone asked what I would like for Christmas, I said I’d like for them to do something nice and then tell me about it. But then, I’d find myself hitting the stores in a futile effort to find the perfect gifts for everyone I loved. I always go overboard shopping for Josef because I love him so much, I can’t help it! Josef’s provided a list for me again this year, and I’ll probably get him some of the items on it, but besides him and our brood of nieces and nephews, everyone else is getting a charitable contribution in his or her name from me this Christmas.
I’m actually really excited about this because this is more in line with how I want to live: giving from the heart and REALLY helping others. Last year we did this a little bit, but now it will be for a wider circle of loved ones. And, in this recession, charitable organizations need our money more than ever.
I think we’re going to give to Heifer, Unicef, Salvation Army, Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Agape Center. There are many, many other wonderful organizations to which I’d love to donate, but I want to donate to the places that mean the most to my loved ones. I’ve noticed a lot of local stores, including Publix and even Ann Taylor, make giving easy with meal bags and the option to add a monetary donation to a charity to your purchase. I think this is smart, efficient, and good as it’s optional.
I like to think of this form of giving as “turning out.” In several groups I’ve been in, such as Westminster Fellowship at Presbyterian College, we ended our time together by standing in a circle and linking arms. We started by putting out left arms out and moving it toward the person on the right. Then, we put right arms out and toward the person to our left and grabbed the hand on each side. We stood there, right arm over left arm, so that when you turn out, still holding hands, everyone is able to still hold hands as they face out of the circle.
I feel like if I put my money where my mouth is, I can make much more of a difference in this world that needs me so badly to look up from the sales rack. Instead of turning inward on ourselves, or even turning inward and focusing only on our loved ones all the time, if we turn out, we take all the goodness within ourselves and bless the world with it.