The Spirit of Giving

by Melissa Minners

            I recently took part in a rather unsuccessful donation drive at my place of employment.  The reasons people gave for not donating money from their checks toward various charitable organizations were plentiful, but the most repeated excuse cited a rapid growth in expenses and a sincere lack of growth in salary.  Now, I can understand if money is tight Ė been there, am still doing that Ė but can you honestly tell me that you donít have any money to donate to a worthy cause.  Even at the mall, people hurry by the Salvation Army collection stands in search of Christmas gifts.  How can you honestly say that you have no money to donate to the Salvation Army and then rush into a store to buy an iPod for someoneÖmost likely yourself?!  Can you honestly say that you donít have any change to put in the Salvation Army collection pot?

            If you canít donate in a monetary form, how about donating some time?  Dozens of charitable organizations can use your help.  Local shelters could use assistance in distributing food to the homeless.  Donated gifts for the Toys for Tots program or other such programs could probably use some help wrapping gifts for the children.  What?  You say you donít have time?  Well, how about donating some of the clothes you never wear that are only collecting dust in your closet or are stuffed somewhere in the back of one of your drawers?  People need warm clothing this time of year Ė why not donate that wool sweater you bought but never wore or the shirt that you only wore once.  Iím sure that a homeless individual would definitely love the gift of a coat and Iím sure that you have a coat hanging somewhere in your closet that you no longer wear.

            The same excuses that people give for not donating to charitable organizations are also used when buying gifts.  I have to say, I have been in the sad situation where it was pay the bills or buy gifts for everyone for Christmas.  Electricity and shelter are very important and I have to say that if it comes to a choice between heat in the winter and a Christmas present, I am going to choose the heat.  However, Christmas is not about the exorbitant cost of the gift you buy.  Itís about the feeling behind the gift you bestow upon someone.  This world has become so materialistic that people forget that the best present anyone can receive is something that comes from the heart.

            Keeping that in mind, letís look back at Christmases in history.  Our founding forefathers Ė colonists and settlers Ė often didnít have money to buy extravagant gifts.  Many a Christmas gift was made by hand.  Whether it be a piece of wood whittled into a doll or a dress sewn from scratch or a knitted scarf, these gifts were cherished by those who received them.  When we were children, we didnít have money to buy our parents huge gifts.  We made them cards and other assorted gifts with our own two tiny hands.  Our parents proudly displayed lopsided clay ashtrays, macaroni-decorated picture frames, multicolored pencil holders made from tin cans and more, because these gifts were made by their children with the purest intentions.

            Who says you have to spend tons of money on a gift for it to be appreciated.  Iíve happily received a number of unique hand-crafted items as gifts.  Hand-made ornaments are proudly displayed on my Christmas tree each year, as are the small Christmas stockings a family member knit for me.  I once received a needlepoint picture in a frame that so captured a part of who I am that I immediately mounted it on a wall in my home.  I love it so much that I will forever display it in my home, wherever that home may be.  When times have been hard and I couldnít purchase a gift for someone, I would instead gift them with something I made Ė something with a personal touch.  Iíve compiled special movies on tapes and music on CDs for people Ė movies and music that will have special meaning to the individual Iím giving them to.  I once created a book of song lyrics, each song telling the person how I felt about them.  CD slide shows of family pictures make great gifts, especially if they present a progression in the family from its origin to present time.  Iíve written poems for people and compiled a whole book of such poetry for a special someone.

            These gifts are things that require thought, time and care.  They are specially created for each individual and are unique in that they have your special signature on them.  You are showing that you cared enough to take the time to create something for someone by hand, rather than running to the store to buy the first thing on their wish list.  These gifts are truly given from the heart and, after all, isnít that what Christmas is all about?

            Whether itís a charitable donation of time or money, or presenting someone you care about with something you specially selected or created for them, the Christmas season is about people selflessly giving to other people.  So unlearn the teachings of the materialistic world and bestow a present upon someone in need of a heartfelt gift today.


A very special thanks to http://www.hellasmultimedia.com/webimages/ for the graphic art used in this article.

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