It’s Christmas time. We’re all rushing around buying those last minute gifts to show the people we love that we are thinking about them. Sometimes it is easy. The gifts seem to cry out “Buy me!” from shelves. Other times we end up buying things just to fill a need to give something…anything. I get it. I do it to.
This Christmas, I tied to be a bit better about sharing the goodness around a bit. I worked with World Vision Canada again on their amazing campaign to help families both near and far. I also gave money to help refugees fleeing Allepo. Still on my to do list? The Calgary Food Bank and whatever else I can do before the big day.
The thing I need to do better? Giving all year and sharing that giving is important to me. I think we all get busy and forget. I know I do. When I see someone mention that they gave to Kiva or other organizations it is a great reminder to do that too.
So why am I even writing this? We all know that we should help those in need, right?
Well, a few days I shared an article that proposed that we should all give food banks money instead of food. Their premise was that a big organization would have better bulk buying power and could buy needed items…instead of that can of cream corn that has been languishing in the back of your cupboard.
And WHOA did it piss people off. One person even wrote “I can donate whatever I want, beggars can’t be choosers. It’s just like toy drives that won’t take used toys!”
Let that sink in for a minute. “Beggars can’t be choosers.”
Over the last few years, people seem to be getting meaner. They are villianizing people. Painting people in a bad place financially as DESERVING of that bad place. Everyone? No. But enough that I need to say something…no we ALL need to say something.
Being poor is not an indication of your failure as a person or that you are intrinsically bad. Don’t believe the common narrative of “lazy people who refuse to work”. Most people I know who are poor are part of the working poor. They work their tails off but because of a divorce, an illness, an injury, lack of education or one of 1000 other things, they are having trouble making ends meet. It is easier to believe that poverty is something that someone “earns”. Then we can feel that it will never be us. We aren’t lazy and we are willing to work so we will never be someone who neededto use a food bank or a charity.
Except that isn’t true.
That was my family for a long time. My mom was a single mom with two young children and one in university (on scholarships thankfully…that was me). She worked hard to keep everyone fed, clothed and housed but Christmas was often a bit lean. I remember a few years when she got a hamper from a local organization to help. It had food for Christmas dinner and toys for the little ones. I remember that it was such a big help.
I also remember my brother sobbing because he was 7 or 8 and got books and clothes for Christmas instead of the games he so wanted.
Were we thankful? Of course! Beggars can’t be choosers!
Christmas is a magical time to children. It is not a time to “teach” them that as a poor person they should just shut up and take what they get. My brother lived through it. I doubt he even remembers but those tears have shaped who I am and what I do.
For years, coworkers and I adopted families at Christmas. I always made sure that we bought some of the items off the wish list, no matter how unuseful. I wanted to do my part to bring a tiny bit of Christmas magic to someone who needed it.
So GIVE. Give to those who need food, water, medicine and/or those that just need a little help. And mostly, give them the understanding and compassion that they are people too. Don’t judge them based on their circustances. Just like you would never want someone to judge you by yours.