What Happened to the Giving?

by Kimberly MacCarron

In the midst of twinkling lights, sparkly trees and holiday music streaming through every department store in America, what happened to giving?

I don’t mean giving in the sense that we’re grabbing crap off the shelves before the next person can snatch it. I don’t mean that panicky feeling of buying anything because we have no clue what someone needs. And I don’t mean buying something for a “Secret Santa” gift that the person clearly lists the three things that would be sufficient.

This year I told my husband not to bother with the Secret Santa farce at his office. You pull a name from the jar, and that person lists three things they want in a specified price range. The three things are generally gift cards to their favorite stores. Then they pick a name and their choices are generally a gift card or a specific item. How about we nix that idea completely and just go buy ourselves what we want???

I’m not trying to be all bah humbug about Christmas. I seriously want the opposite. I want to do something that fills my heart with joy and wonder. Those are things I’ve sadly missed in the spirit of Christmas. Even with young children who love the magic of Christmas, I haven’t felt it for a long time.

When my daughter came home from school with her “Secret Santa” name from among her friends (price range $40), I was annoyed. Not because of the price. Not because I don’t love Christmas. It’s because they all want the same things from the same stores. And they already have the same stuff! I told my daughter that they should pull that money together and give it to a charity. That suggestion was met with something that went a little bit like this…”Whaaaat?”

I would much rather give her $100 to put toward sending a girl to school for a whole year in Malawi http://www.nbcnews.com/id/40558738/. Please see Lawrence O’Donnell’s website. It will make your heart soar. And with even less money than that, she and her friends could provide desks for kids who actually want them.

So, this year, I’ve requested that my friends DO NOT BUY ME ANYTHING. I would much rather pull our money and give to a deserving charity. Any charity. I don’t need anything but a warm feeling in my heart.

I bought a bunch of toys and cold-wear gear for our local community action center and took it to the school for a toy drive yesterday. It was the first time I was actually excited about doing something or buying things this Christmas. In a county where most kids are privileged and spoiled, what do they REALLY need?! I wish that all parents would step back and remember what the season is really about. I wish we could step forward and show our children what it means to give. To really give.

Okay. I’m getting off my soap box now because I have to go shopping. I need to fight someone for a parking space and then push and shove my way into some lines. Then I need to argue with the poor sales clerk who won’t accept my coupon on a certain name brand item. Then I’ll drive home, with my jaw clenched up tight, to welcome my kids home from school.

I hope that this Christmas we all search inside our hearts and discover the real magic of the season.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays,  and…Bah humbug! ☺