December 17 , 2011 /


As I went through four days of mail, not email but real USPS mail, I became aware of the plethora of requests for a year end gift to support just about everything you could imagine.  The invitations to give ranged from Michelle Obama’s holiday card asking for a contribution to Barack’s campaign to a variety of non-profit, mostly educational organizations and institutions,  to a number of social service causes from a local food bank to work abroad with children impacted by war, poverty and disease.  We also have children here in the good ol’ USA impacted by war, poverty and disease.  Whew!

How do you make a decision about where to give, how much to give, what you believe is most important or valuable and what do you eliminate and discard?  Almost all of these were requests for money but there were a few that asked for something else and those caught my attention because they were not asking for a financial contribution directly.  They were asking for my participation and support in other ways.  They wanted my time as a volunteer in whatever way I wanted to contribute, even writing to others to solicit their involvement too, if it was a cause that I believed in sufficiently.  My sister-in-law is especially adept at this strategy as I get those messages from her frequently about the things that touch her most deeply.  The most recent had to do with the missing girls in India.  While appalling and worthy of our attention, even outrage, I feel somehow removed from some of the distant issues although if one is sufficiently and emotionally moved by those, then by all means go for them.  It is just not possible for me to pay attention to all the human misery in the world and the continuing brutality to fellow human beings.  Maybe there is a glimmer of hope with the world wide rebellion against those who exploit others through cruel and manipulative means to control and suppress them.

A friend wrote recently about what to give children in this season of giving, what books to give, what gifts might make a contribution to their growth and development.  I suggested that what I would like to give to children (and to many adults as well) are these three gifts that would keep on giving throughout a lifetime.  First, I would give the gift of courage which enables children to take intelligent risks and persevere in the face of resistance and adversity.  Secondly, I would give the gift of confidence that inspires a positive self-concept and reduces or eliminates the fear of trying something new and different.  And finally,  I would give the gift of compassion and caring that reaches out and touches those in need of a helping hand and heart.  My reasons for these gifts are simple.  They don’t cost a lot, they last a long time and they are readily available.

Happy Holidays.  May your season be filled with joy, peace, understanding and lots of sharing.

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