The last year has been… interesting, to say the least. 2018 was a challenge for me mentally, physically, and emotionally. But, I decided I’m not devoting any more energy to bad things. So, today I want to focus on something good.
Here’s something about me that confuses people: I hate Christmas time. I’m getting better about it, but it’s mostly one of those situations where 1.) there are several bad memories tied particularly to Christmas, and 2.) I get irritated with people that ruin it for me because everyone seems offended by something, or people lose the basic point of Christmas, or whatever. That isn’t what I want to get into, since it isn’t the point of this post.
Now, while I become a tad bit Grinch-y during Christmas time, I do love giving. I try to do what I can for people I love, pick a perfect present (in my mind at least), to let them know I actually put thought into what I bought instead of generic body wash gift baskets and junk they won’t really like or use.
But besides the things I buy for friends and family, I also work with local organizations as much as I can to help get things for people who have lost everything, or who are alone (a lot of times, these are Veterans), or people who just don’t have the money to do anything for their family for Christmas, etc. My mom and I will buy the things, give them to the organization responsible for distributing them to families in time for Christmas, and go on with our lives. We don’t give our names. Most of the time, my friends and family don’t realize I do this, except in instances where they ask me what I want for Christmas and I give them one of the people on my list to help and have them buy for them instead. Because trust me, I’m not in need of anything. I’m perfectly fine buying myself Batman collectibles and random other junk.
Another thing my mom and I have done over the years, which even less people realize, is buy a bunch of things for the residents in nursing homes and deliver them for Christmas. It can be anything from crossword puzzles, card decks, or handheld poker games, to body wash or blankets, treats, etc. There are a surprising number of people that are alone on Christmas in those facilities, because their families don’t bother to visit, or maybe they don’t have families for whatever reason. This kills me. If I had more free time, I would like to go in and visit the people that won’t have visitors but would like to. I can’t imagine myself ever being in that scenario, where I’m alone in a home with strangers, bored and basically waiting to die.
Again, we don’t give our names, we don’t want to be praised for doing something that I wish more people would do, just because it’s the right thing. We’ve started involving Lillie and Dica, my two nieces that live with me 50% of the time. One year we dressed them as little elves and took them into the nursing home with us to drop off the presents. The residents that saw them loved them, and the girls liked being “Santa’s helpers.” I was proud to have started showing the girls at a young age the benefits of giving to someone, not because you have to, but because you want to. Because it feels good.
This year, we started taking the girls to the women’s shelter, letting them see what the donations we took would mean to the people there. Next year, I hope to involve them more in the buying for families tradition, and have them help me pick out things for little kids their age that aren’t going to have much of a Christmas. I’d like for them to help with that every year, to see that not everyone gets quite as spoiled as they do every year, and that they can help make a huge difference in someone else’s life.
But I don’t just do things at Christmas time. Many friends, family, acquaintances, people through work, etc will tell you that I readily give when needed, and sometimes just because. If I can avoid people knowing I did something, I will avoid it, and let it be a miraculous gift from the Universe. My mother and I have bought and delivered an entire Thanksgiving dinner for a family I barely knew, because they had just lost everything. The home of some of my friends burned to the ground and they lost everything in it, just a few days before Christmas, and we didn’t hesitate to go get them some clothes, food, random things they may need until they could get back on their feet. Mom and I have bought groceries for families struggling to pay bills and keep food on the table.
I’ve bought many, many friends random little gifts, just because. I’ve offered to buy or help with paying for the purchases of someone in front of me in Walmart, because they didn’t have enough to buy the things they need. I donate to the local no-kill shelter, where I got my big baby boy Lenny. I’ve donated to random charities, both with money and item donations (food drives, toy drives, etc). Every single time the gas station I frequently use has the donate $1 or $5 Shamrocks for Muscular Dystrophy, I buy the $5 shamrocks every time I’m in there, or at least the $1 ones if I’m short on cash that day. And trust me, I’m in that gas station A LOT. I organized the Legends of the Knight screening in Eric’s memory and sent more money to the Muscular Dystrophy Association than I ever thought I could from one thing. At Hot Topic, and various other stores, when they have the round your purchase total up to donate your change – I usually do it. I leave some really good tips for exceptionally nice waitresses having really bad nights. Plus other things I can’t even think of at the moment. When I have more free time, I plus to volunteer at a place or two locally, even if it’s just a few hours one day of the week. If I ever make it big as a writer, and am more than financially stable, you can bet I will be donating monthly to Muscular Dystrophy, and offering any and all help that I can to the organization.
Now, here is the point of all of this babbling, because I sure as hell wasn’t doing it to praise myself. I wouldn’t keep most of the stuff I do a secret if that was the case. I don’t do any of this because I want people to think of me a certain way. I don’t do it for brownie points with God or the Universe or any other deity or religion or cosmic force you can think of.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
Our world is a bit of a mess, right now. All over. So many people need help and love and guidance. And we can help, even with small changes. Can’t donate a bunch of things or a large sum of money? That’s fine. Hold the door more often. Buy someone you know a soda. Donate your change at the store. Volunteer your time somewhere, even if it’s one day, or reoccurring weekly thing. Go visit your elderly relatives. Stand up for someone being bullied. Etc. There are SO many things that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
I’m thankful this holiday season that, despite the medical issues and everything else I’ve dealt with this year, that I’ve had the love and support of my friends and family. That isn’t something everyone else has. But, I’d like to think, if everyone could take the time to do something good, we could ease the suffering in the world just a bit, and maybe change some hearts along the way. And if we could pass along these good ideas and values to the children in our lives, maybe they can heal the world as they grow. Teach them that being different isn’t wrong. That love isn’t wrong. That kindness and intelligence are virtues.
The power to change things is in all of our hands, regardless of religion or politics or whatever else we let cruelty use to divide us.
Please, comment below with anything good someone has done for you, or some kindness you’ve witnessed. And share this post with others, to get the message passed along.
It’s time to give the world our best.