I’ve been really focused lately. Focused on work, on family, on friends, on writing. Focused like a laser, trying to dig my way out of debt. Focused on Christmas, too. On filling my days with happiness.
On giving. I made holiday gifts (though I haven’t mailed them to those I haven’t seen in person) and I’ve given those out.
And now, somehow, unexpectedly, I find myself thinking over the spirit of Christmas. What is Christmas? I believe that the definition is rather personal. At least for me it is, since I am a non-believer. But I love Christmas. I love the lights that I can see at night. I love the look in a kid’s eye when I ask if he’s sure he’s on the nice list this year. I love spending time with my sister, my mom, my dad, and all 78 pets.
I love the way Christmas makes me feel. The Christmas version of Kathleen is happy. She laughs easily, she’s not so cynical, and she judges people less. She gives to people holding signs. She wears holiday attire, though she is still too young to pull off the Christmas sweater look.
And yet, the season gives me pause. On Thanksgiving I wrote that I was thankful that all of my problems were first world problems. I can’t help but think that I don’t give enough money away. It makes me feel guilty that the only giving I do goes to my local NPR affiliate. I’m one of those middle-class, NPR listening, fancy-coffee drinking, local-food eating liberals who are too selfish to see that their actions don’t reflect their values.
My actions don’t reflect my values. According to my actions, making caramels and paying my credit cards are more important than helping others. And that doesn’t sit well with me.
So I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to donate every month. Not just to Oregon Public Broadcasting, either. Today, I gave to World Vision. Sure, they’re an evangelical group, but they do good work. I don’t want to sponsor a child, but I do want to give. There’s a section on their site that’s called “area of most need” — that sounds noble. I only gave a little, but I intend to donate at least ten dollars a month to some sort of charitable organization.
And I’m going to give to the people holding signs in the cold. If you’re holding a sign and standing on the corner on my commute to work (I get to work around 7 or 7:30) I will give you money.
I don’t know what else to do, and I don’t know how else to give back. But it’s important to me. So if you have any ideas for this season and beyond, please let me know.