A bounty of Christmas catalogs wend their way to my mailbox. Retailers are hoping to have a better Christmas season this year than last. And, there are signs all around that the economy is picking up. I always loved the Christmas season, except for the shopping. Shopping for my kids was fine, but for siblings and various friends or special aunts and uncles, it became a chore. Its the type of gift that is hard to choose, something you can afford but still likely to please. A hassle, to put it mildly, especially when funds were short. When my kids were college age, they couldn't afford buying for each other and we decided collectively to stop giving gifts. Instead we donated a set amount to charity. It turned into a form of freedom that we enjoyed so much, we've continued the process to this day, with one exception. The new younger set, the grandchildren, that still have sugar plums in their heads, are still entitled to gifts. It was kind of fun to reveal to each other what charity we chose and why, no matter how meager the donation.
For several years we read poetry. One year the kids sang the rock song that annoyed me the most when they were growing up and I loved the tease. We know the best part of Christmas is family, sharing food, and each other.Which brings me back to the catalogs.
Our economy may be shaky, but this is still the land of plenty. Two charities stand out in my mind because they do so much for others. One is: http://actfast.oxfamamerica.org/
They are on the ground in every country, including America, for every disaster, for every kid who is hungry, finding solutions. And the other is Heifer International. www.heifer.org/gift
They make it simple to make a difference. Buy two chickens and supply plenty of eggs and protein for a family. A goat provides milk. A sheep, milk, meat and wool. Help dig a pond for fishing and a couple of ducks. Or buy fruit trees, a sack of seed, or life saving mosquito nets. 925 million people are hungry when they go to bed at night.
Heifer International is also partnering with project POTICO, a NewPage paper manufacturer cooperating to save virgin rainforests.
You can find a very basic, very satisfying way to make a gift that counts.