‘Tis The Season For Generosity
Wednesday - December 09, 2009
I just ordered our Christmas cards! Yes, yes, I know, it’s late. But still, I met my deadline - which is, rather loosely, anytime before the actual day. If I go by that timetable, then I’m really not that far behind on my holiday schedule. And so what if it’s the only thing I’ve done so far.
So, time to get started. I’ll spend the afternoon pulling out the ornaments and the decorations, and that should get me into the spirit. I’ll go to Costco and see if it still has those wreaths and great big poinsettias. I’ll work on a gift list. I think I’m running out of time, but I refuse to panic.
I love Christmas. But it’s been a difficult year to get a handle on, mostly because it’s hard to be completely celebratory when you know people are hurting. The economy is gloomy, teachers are still in limbo and demand at the Hawaii Foodbank is rising. These are troubles you can’t shove away just because you’re supposed to be merry and bright.
A recent article by Elizabeth Warren, chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the banking bailouts, paints a grim picture of what Americans are struggling with:
“Today, one in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work. One in nine families can’t make the minimum payment on their credit cards. One in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure. One in eight Americans is on food stamps. More than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month. The economic crisis has wiped more than $5 trillion from pensions and savings, has left family balance sheets upside down and threatens to put 10 million homeowners out on the street.”
It sounds scary. I am not trying to dampen your spirits, just remind you that we’ve got big challenges if we are to push through to a happier 2010 and beyond. We have an obligation to at least know what’s going on all around us.
I know people will cope. We may have diminished expectations, but the magic will prevail, especially at this time of year. After all, we need a little holiday cheer.
Parents of small children know what I’m talking about. The kids, after all, do not understand that times are tough. They are firmly convinced that Santa Claus is watching their every move. They believe in sleigh bells and reindeer and the North Pole and Christmas cookies. Most parents will go to heroic lengths to maintain the fantasy. They will do their darndest to have a tree and to sing Christmas songs and hunt down the neatest toys because, let’s face it, as parents we want more than anything to see our kids surrounded by piles of torn wrapping paper and mountains of toys. We want their eyes to shine and hear them laugh with glee. We want to experience again that delicious euphoria. We get to relive the innocence and sense of wonder through their eyes. On Christmas morning it is possible for us to be children again.
My son isn’t little anymore, but I want this time to be special even though he’s long left Santa behind. It’s the end of the year - we’re all tired and cranky and we need to be rejuvenated. The holidays are the perfect antidote for what ails us. People are so nice. Generosity abounds. It feels good to take the focus off our problems and to think about what everyone else might want or need. Christmas is all about selfless love.
If there’s one thing I’d like to ask of myself and all of you it is this: Please consider putting a charity on your gift list. A lot of families are scrambling this year to bring the magic home to their kids. It would be wonderful to help them out as much as we can.
So, back to those late holiday cards. If any of my friends are reading this, I’m working on them! I might even get them to you before Christmas day. Wish me luck.
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