“What to get for the person who has everything”… we hear it everywhere this time of year.
My heart feels sad when I hear this. On almost every T.V program, radio show, and any kind of media these days this very question, or answer, is posed. All I want to do is stand up and scream “NOTHING”!
What have we come to as a society? Are we so far removed from those across the world, those living in the town down the road, to our very own neighbors in need?
I remember being 8 years old. We lived in a pretty rough area of the city. It was all my mom could afford. We didn’t have a car, my best friends’ Mom was a stripper, and we had “yardsales” pretty often just so we could buy milk. My brother and I grew up with a single mom on very low income. Christmases weren’t exactly frivolous. I loved Christmas though. I remember going to the food bank and getting to pick out a few things that I liked. It was SO nice to get the fancy Ritz crackers, instead of the no name salted ones. It was amazing to get some puddings to bring in our lunches to school. I loved having “rich kid” snacks like that. At Christmas time one of the local charity groups would hold a Christmas dinner for low-income families. We got to go that year and it was one of my best memories. I got a gift from Santa that night. It was a necklace making kit, and was one of my very favourite Christmas gifts I ever received. I’ll never forget it. I didn’t think of myself as a poor kid, a welfare kid, or one of “those” kids in need. I was just a kid. I probably didn’t put much thought into the fact that someone I don’t know spent their hard earned money on a gift for me and they would never see my reaction. I just got to do something that other kids did without even thinking about it, and it meant so much. I just got to feel “normal”. It was awesome.
That year I found two loonies under the couch a week before Christmas. That was almost better than Christmas morning. I got to buy Mom a gift. I spent over an hour in the dollar store trying to pick out the perfect gift, picking things up, and putting them down again. I just couldn’t decide. I finally made my purchase and when I got home I realized I had put a candle in my pocket planning to buy it and forgot to put it back when I made my final purchase of something else. I was devastated. I cried the whole way back to the dollar store and thought I was going to be arrested when I returned the accidently stolen dollar store candle. I wasn’t arrested.
Most of the people I socialize with now were lucky enough to never have experienced anything like that. A necklace making kit today might cost me upwards of ten, or maybe even fifteen dollars. It blows my mind. I spent $13.99 of a brick of cheddar cheese last week. CHEDDAR. CHEESE.
They say less than 10% of people leave the “class” or income bracket that they were born into. I am one of the lucky few. What that means is that not only am I lucky enough to have “moved up” as some might call it, but I am lucky enough to see the class gap from both sides. It comes with a certain responsibility. It’s hard for me at this time of year because I know the comfort that I have, and I know what its like to be a part of so many families who go without. Being a part of the first world middle class is something that 99% of the world dreams about, and most of us are quite casual about it. We just compare ourselves to those who have just a little bit more than us.
I don’t claim to be the world best giver. I give, for sure, but I could also afford to give more. It’s hard to find a balance I’ll admit. I don’t adhere to not receiving gifts because I am in a place of privilege. I am not an extremist. But, I am definitely in a place a privilege, as many people I know are as well. I appreciate it and try to do what I can.
Some things are just ridiculous though. If it is stressing you out because you just can’t think of what to get Uncle Bob who has everything he needs, maybe don’t get him anything, maybe make him something, maybe make a donation in his name. There are so many options. I get it. Many of us show our love by giving gifts, but there are so many more creative ways to give.
What if we took all the money spent on unneeded gifts, unwanted gifts, things like luxury Christmas crackers, and put it towards gifts, or even necessities for others who only dream of having a spare $50 once in a while, never mind safe drinking water or 3 square meals a day.
This is a time of giving. We give to our friends, give to our family, and give to charities. Heck there’s people giving out the middle finger like its candy on the roads this time of year (the an entirely different issue). Seriously though, it is fun to give. It’s one of my favourite things.
It just really breaks me up sometimes to see all that is wasted, to see ungratefulness, to see entitlement. To see people braking their back trying to think of how they can spend $50 on someone who has everything, and can think of nothing they could possibly want or need.
So on behalf of those kids halfway across the world who will soon receive the shoeboxes you filled for them a month ago, thank you. On behalf of the single mother down the road who gets to give her kids some presents this year, thank you. On behalf of the kids who get to have a Christmas dinner because of your donations, thank you. Thanks to all who give.
I hope that more than anything this Christmas, even more than I hope I can give, I hope I can daily be thankful for the abundance I have, for the privilege I was born into, for the love that I am surrounded by, and for the freedom to celebrate Christmas however I choose. Merry Christmas, everyone!