Liberate Your Soul

I know that most of my friends insist that my first words must have been "ba-humbug" because I don't decorate for the holidays (we don't even put a tree up until a week before Christmas, and then, if I had my way, we'd take it down that night) and this year I didn't send out cards. It isn't that I am "anti-holiday" it's just that I'm "anti-hoopla for the holiday." Here's why:

My children are richly blessed. They truthfully want for nothing. They each have their own rooms which they are free to decorate and not clean up. They have plenty of clothes despite what you may hear about not ever being able to find socks. They have food to eat even if they don't want to eat carrots as a snack there are carrots. And stuff. They have enough Lego's to build an entire city...and they have. They have enough action figures to stage a small war...and they have. They have enough Polly Pockets, littlest pet shop, my little pony, squinkies...well, to do whatever it is you do with those sorts of toys. In fact, we have so many of these "things" that in the course of a 24 hour day my children would still never play with every toy that they have. Sure, they can try, but there will still be at least two 64 quart bins full of stuffed animals that will not be touched.

And I understand want. I'm not that much of a Scrooge to give my children a lump of coal for the holiday. But in our family, we've taken care of those wants and needs. Really. We've got it covered.

So, if you want to give my children a gift this season, here's what you can do:

  • Books Make It Better This is a wonderful literacy campaign started by my fellow Mom Congress alums. By partnering with Reach out and Read to create either a physical book drive or virtual book drive, they have helped collect and provide books to children in a variety of communities. In fact, for only $5 you can put a copy of Goodnight Moon in the hands of a child this season. Cool.
  • Shot@Life This is a movement to protect children worldwide by providing life-saving vaccines where they are most needed. $20 is the cost of immunization that prevents pneumonia, polio, measles, diarrhea. This UN Foundation program can be supported by you when you shop online at a variety of merchants, for more information go to Buy4 and see how you can help
  • Celebrity plug: Matt Damon H20 Africa.  Clean drinking water. Should be simple right? But it's not for so many. My kids go to the tap, fill up a glass, drink it down. Or they pull a bottle out of the pantry. Or...you get the picture
  • Education is also a given, but in other nations, it isn't even a possibility because it's hard to go to school when there is no school to go to. Last year my parents "gave" my kids a desk in Africa. They participated in Unicef's Schools for Africa Campaign. While my youngest didn't quite understand that "her" desk was for another child, her older brothers did.
These are just a sample of what I'm sure is a long list. We all have a cause or charity that we support. And while what I have listed has a national or international scope, the truth is that there are local needs we can all help address as well. How many scarves do you have in your closet? I counted and in our house we have 15 scarves. Wool, cotton, long, short, leopard print...I can only wear one scarf at a time, and honestly, I have a favorite. At my son's elementary school his class is collecting hats, gloves, and...scarves. He's taking a bag in today. Many of our communities have a local food bank we could support. I mean, you know you are never going to eat four cans of green beans, so donate three. Or a blanket drive, or a stuffed animal drive, or...Volunteer. If you don't have any "thing" to give, give your time. We all say there are never enough hours in a day, but really, it's what we do with those hours that makes a difference. One hour of your time might mean a lifetime to someone else.

We all know what happens to the man who constantly says "ba-humbug" don't we? He awakens with a renewed sense of generosity and a better understanding of how one needs to be connected with and care for our fellow men. Trust me, there will be a tree in our house, and gifts galore, but somewhere there will also be a child enjoying a copy of Goodnight Moon, and a  "little old lady whispering hush."

From my family to yours, may you drink from your saucer because your cup has overflowed, for
"I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver."
(Maya Angelou)

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