$5 Can change the World, or what I really want for Christmas
Last year, I was increasingly dissatisfied with the commercial state of the world around the holidays. The true meaning of Christmas has long left us, replaced with santas and wish lists that remove all cultural and moral significance from what could be a special time. We're left with emptiness even as our shopping bags fill with meaningless gifts, the emptiness only grows.
This year I want that to stop. I am done pretending that giving you a wrapped CD or book means I recognize the gifts of the season, that I stop and take a moment to remember how very much each of you mean to me, that in the commercial buying process I forget who Jesus was (I'm still not sure how I feel about the whole religion thing but will always recognize that Jesus was a great man, as far as I can tell, the kindest of men, the virtue which I hold most dear, so at the very least he's the best role model I can come up with and why do I feel the need to apologize or explain every time I mention him or religion -- is re-discovering religion so uncool that I can't even admit to it? I don't know.), that the world started to change dramatically on this night over two millenia ago.
Giving that gift does none of that for me, it merely fulfills what I perceive to be an obligation. Do you feel the same way?
If you do, read on because you won't be getting that book or CD this year. However, you may get it if I see something later in the year that I think would truly have meaning for you. That to me seems the better deal -- a thoughtfully chosen gift when you least expect it over a forced one, birthdays notwithstanding.
I know times are tough, that those of us (yes, myself included) who were making damn good money a year ago are lucky to be making significantly less this year. So, what I want for Christmas is this -- $5 a week of your money or 1 hour of your time each week between now and Christmas. Skip or pack your lunch one day (most of us spend more than $5 anyway so this is actually a bargain). I don't actually want your money, I want you to do something kind with it. Something easy like putting into a donation can for breast cancer, animal rescue or any cause that you deem worthy. That's the easy thing. If you don't have the money or are unemployed and looking for something to do, spend an hour a week volunteering. Go to a nursing home and talk to some of the residents. They're not picky about entertainment, they're just lonely. Pick up trash along your street. Smile in a non-condescending way at a disabled person, smile like they're just another person. Help coach a kids soccer, hockey, baseball, whatever team. What I'd love the most is for someone to volunteer to help my dear friend Linea drive desperate foster dogs around the bay area for one day. It seems every day she's rushing to drop one off to be neutered, to pick an abandoned one up, to drive one to a new home and she never gets to sit down. Can someone with a little time and some gas money step up and do this for her for one day?
There's someone around you who could really use $5 or an hour of your time. If they're lucky, they'll get both. Even giving a bum looking for booze or a joint is worth it in my book if your act of kindness makes their day. Buy a hungry person a meal, buy a 5 pound bag of store brand dog food and bring it to your local shelter or rescue. Buy toys from the clearance rack at a pet store and donate them, use your club card to get "one free" at Safeway and donate the free one to a food bank, buy discount diapers or powdered milk and donate them to a shelter.
But do something. $5 or an hour is not a significant amount of time or money, but it is most certainly enough to change somone's life, even if for only a day. And when you've done, it, tell me what you've done. I'll compile a list (anonymous or not, it's up to you) and post it here. The best gift I could get this year is a long list of nice things that you folks have done for others. I'm not just some goody two-shoes, I'm still a pain in the ass, I just want the world to be a litte brighter, a little more meanginful this year because last year was my last empty Christmas.
Make it happen. The clock is ticking and I'm waiting for those emails. And yes, I'm doing this too.