Christmastime and the Giving is Easy

‘Tis the season for giving.

I know so many people who are almost done Christmas shopping, and I just started the day after Thanksgiving. Here’s the deal. Do you know people who don’t like their food to touch on their plate? I’m like that with my holidays. First, there is Halloween, then comes Thanksgiving, and then comes Christmas. There is an order, and I like them to be in that order. Separate. Each one getting its own holiday glory. So, I don’t start Christmas shopping until after Thanksgiving. I’m a purest of odd sorts, I guess. I don’t like my holidays to touch.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, oh, it’s on!

There is one particular arena that I break my own rules…giving back. I plan my giving as early as I can.
I personally believe in the value of giving back. Giving back to my world, my city, my church, etc. It’s so easy to get caught up in buying gifts for our family and friends. It’s fun, I love it, too. But what I love even more is the feeling I get from giving to an organization that truly needs the resources. I don’t feel bad saying, if you’re reading this email, you live in a fairly entitled state of being. I’m pretty sure you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back, some form of safe, dependable transportation and you know where your next meal is coming from. I’m also fairly sure within your very community, your city or small town, there are people who don’t have those basic needs guaranteed to them. Let’s remember to give to them, too.

I’ve had this conversation with friends. What never ceases to amaze me is how some people know there is a need in their community, but when I talk about what they do about it, they pass it off like its someone else’s job to take care of the needy. Like there is an entire staff of people whose job it is to volunteer, feed the homeless, clothe the needy, provide safety and security, or just give money to provide those things to people in need. Oddly, they don’t seem to think it’s their job, rather it’s someone else. The conclusion I’ve come to is, “needy” makes some people very, very uncomfortable.

Several years ago, I started acting as the volunteer coordinator for my son’s Boy Scout troop. One of the service projects we did was to prepare a meal at Place of Hope in St. Cloud. Place of Hope provides safe resources for people experiencing homelessness, especially those dealing with addiction. The boys came to love this event. We always had way more volunteers than we needed, and I always felt incredible pride in that fact. We had people who enjoyed and wanted to give. What was so interesting to me was watching the boys and some of the parents shy away from direct interaction with the people we served the meal too. Volunteers who showed up early to set up and stayed with me until the end to clean up, but never went to the line to serve, nor could make eye contact with the men, women, and children we were serving.

I won’t lie, it made me a little uncomfortable, too. There is something that pangs inside of me when I look into the eyes of someone who has nothing when I have so much by comparison. For some, the discomfort drives them to look away. For others, apparently, it drives them to not participate at all. To ignore that even in the best neighborhoods in the most well-off cities, there is a need going unmet.

Here is my challenge to each of you. I put this challenge before you because I love my clients and I know you are amazing people. I have faith, in you.

I challenge, invite, welcome, ask you to give this season. Maybe it’s your time at church, ringing a bell, making blankets, putting food on a plate, or organizing underwear at a women’s shelter. Maybe it’s a check or cash for an organization that speaks to your heart. Maybe it’s helping your elderly neighbor clear their driveway, or offering to babysit for a neighbor who’s struggling to make time to get it all done. Perhaps it’s watching someone’s house while they leave to be with loved ones. Here’s the deal: it does not matter what it is, it matters that is it. It’s not about giving a certain percentage or a particular amount of time. There is no imaginary scale of value or worth when it comes to giving of yourself. Just give. Simply do what you can do because you can do it. Be willing to be a little uncomfortable within yourself so that someone else less fortunate can have the basics of what we often take for granted.

Just do it. I challenge you to challenge yourself. You can make a difference!

The reward is immeasurable. The feeling of being able to make a difference, if only for a day in the life of someone else, literally warms my heart. No, I don’t just give back at the holidays, but if it’s not a regular practice for you, this is a great time of year to start. The needs are high and you are somebody.

I thank you in advance for accepting the challenge, and I would love to hear your stories!

Blessings Galore, Anne

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