The Season of Giving

It’s that time of year again. The time of year in which I whine about how much I dislike Christmas and why we don’t celebrate it, in which I mutter disparagingly about corporate greed-fueled holidays and excuses for being charitable on one day of the year without really being charitable at all, in which my social media friends roll their eyes at me and pat me on the head and half-teasingly call me a Grinch or a Scrooge.

I like to think I’m a generous person. When I have money so spare, I’m more likely to spend it on other people before myself. I buy games for friends who can’t otherwise afford them, because entertainment is a crucial part of a happy life (whatever form that entertainment may take). I send cash to people. I help friends out financially when they need it. I send random, unannounced gifts. When people order from my Etsy shop, I sometimes throw in freebies. I do these things year-round because being charitable is who you are, innately, and not something you choose to be on one specific day of the year.

I don’t like Christmas because it’s a re-appropriated (many times over) religious holiday that has apparently morphed into some season of giving where not much giving happens at all; not in the ‘giving to the needy’, in the ‘making a sacrifice for the benefit of others’ sense. Families indulge in a kind of circle-jerk of gift giving and feel good about themselves because they got presents for everyone. Sure, it’s fun giving prezzies out, and it’s exciting having one day of the year where you give and receive – but it’s not quite done in a spirit of selfless generosity.

Of course, I rant about this every year, and content myself that I’m as generous as my means allow throughout the rest of the year. But because I don’t actually do *anything* at Christmas, it kinda looks like I am just being a Scrooge. It’s not enough to just not celebrate and to declare the rest of the year my present-giving time. When all eyes are on me, I’m doing squat.

So this year, I’ve asked friends how much they spend on Christmas decorations every year or, if they re-use decorations from year to year, what the approximate value of their decorations is. I’ve taken these sums, found an average, and I’m donating that average to a few local not-for-profits (about $100). If I DID decorate for Christmas, which I don’t, this would be me taking the money I *would* have spent on decorations and giving it to charity instead. If I DID celebrate Christmas, then I wouldn’t really NEED a tree or tinsel or baubles. I wouldn’t need them as much as some people need food or shelter or counsel.

Every time I grump about how much I hate Christmas and why I don’t celebrate it, people tell me that they can celebrate Christmas AND be charitable the rest of the year. They say they celebrate the religious holiday not because they’re religious, but because they enjoy the spirit of the holiday – this afore-mentioned season of giving.

This year, instead of having people trying to make me feel bad for not participating in this season of giving, I’m giving. It would be nice if some other people would maybe join me; sacrifice their decorations and give the money to a charity of their choice instead. Make the season of giving a little bit nicer for people who have less than we do. Stop feeding money into shops and brands and corporations and buying overpriced toys and gadgets and random paraphernalia and instead, give it to charities.

Imagine a world where every Christmas, people take *all* the money they’d otherwise spend on each other, and instead give it away. Give it to rape crisis trusts, to childcare, to education, to the environment, to conservation, to housing projects, healthcare charities, counselling centers, wildlife funds. Give it to whichever charity tugs at your heart strings. Just give it to someone who needs it more than you do.