Monday, November 26, 2007

Holiday Challenge!

Thanksgiving traveling, and two sick kids have meant very little computer time and no blogging for me lately.

Miss E is back at school, Baby J is fast asleep, and I have the luxury of peace and quiet at the computer for a couple of hours. One luxury amid many for which I am extremely grateful.

We live in a modest house. We don't have an extravagant lifestyle. I stay at home, and we go without certain things so that we can live on one income. For now, we are happy and healthy, and life is good. Yes there are things that I am anxious about, but these are not life threatening issues. We could save more and need to do better in this regard, but we are doing alright.

I don't have to worry about where we will sleep tonight. Nor do I have to panic that I can't buy food to feed my children. If I were to find myself pregnant with another child, it wouldn't send me into fear or despair about how we could afford it. I don't have to worry that my husband would raise his hand to me, or our children. I don't have to deal with mental or physical abuse of any kind that would send me running towards anyone who could help me.

Ever since I wrote this post, I have been ruminating over what it is I can do to help those people who face all of these fears and challenges, and more. Reading some of Jen's posts at One Plus Two has had me in tears many times. I have cried with sadness at the circumstances that leave people seeking shelter where she works, and I have cried in shame at my own awkwardness when presented with the issue of homelessness in the form of panhandlers. For some reason I can't link to individual posts at Jen's site - so you'll have to dig through her archives to see what I mean - I promise it's worth it!

We find ourselves once again in full blown holiday madness. I am getting to the point where I don't even want tv on in the house because all channels during the day are full of toy commercials that have Miss E dancing around the house shouting 'Can I get that? Can I? Can I?. I try to explain as best I can to her young self about how we will look forward to receiving some gifts at Christmas, but it certainly won't be everything she sees - she looks at me like I'm the worst mother ever to deny her the latest set of plastic rubbish she's seen and I feel so sad. I will not let her grow up obsessed with the latest material 'in thing'. I want her to enjoy the magic of childhood of course, but I also want her to grow up socially responsible and considerate of others less fortunate than she is. I will work on finding a way to teach her these things, in a way she can understand. We have started to talk about things she has outgrown, toys and clothes, and how other little girls younger than her would love to have these things because they don't have any toys. She is warming up to the idea of letting some things go, but I can tell this will be an ongoing lesson since I'm not sure she's 100% there, yet.

I'm not in a position to make grand financial gestures, but I can make small contributions - financial and in terms of donated goods. I'm not going to go into the specifics of what I'm doing as that is not the point of the post - it's not about me or how great I am for helping. I will quietly do what I can, when I can and I want to invite each of you to do the same.

The last few weeks I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. I have found myself feeling ashamed of my envy of material things, or financial freedom that other people have. We don't know what goes on in other people's lives so I need not concern myself with any of these superficial things. My conscience has been well and truly pricked. While I may find myself anxious towards the end of the month wondering how the heck we managed to go right through a paycheck without saving any of it - I am very grateful that there is a paycheck, and another one coming. Many people aren't so lucky. Yes, some people find themselves destitute through their own actions and addictions. Others have lost everything through a series of unhappy circumstances, beyond their control. My compassion for either group is the same. They are all people - individuals, couples, families. They are all some mother's child. They have hearts and souls just like you and me, and they-need-help!

I don't want this post to get preachy - but I do want each of you reading this to really think hard about how you can help. Even the smallest gesture may help just one person for just one day - think about it.

Think about it while you're at the Mall stocking up on Christmas, or other Holiday gifts. Think about it when you're talking to your children. Think about it when you're planning your holiday menus, baking your holiday cookies.

Actually - don't just think about it, reach out, and DO something. Do something now in this holiday season, and make it your New Year's Resolution to keep on doing something - I know I will.


Christine said...

What a wonderful thought, and a great post.

Now that we've moved, we are hoping to claw our way out of the frightening financial position we were in. I do love the idea of giving back to the community...there were a few days there that we didn't know where we'd live, and IF we'd find a place. We joked about living out of our cars, but underneath that joking was some real fear.

I've posted before about my father...when he died he was homeless. Thank you for the reminder that the homeless "are all some mother's child." I think of that often when I see someone on a street corner holding a sign asking for help.

andi said...

I have been thinking about this a lot too. I was going to write a post about it, but it looks like you beat me to it. Would it be alright if I used you as my muse to write a similar post?

I would really like to help out kids that are less fortunate (and not just at Christmas). I'm trying to figure out a way to do that - if I should donate to the Children's hospital here, or find a way to spend some time volunteering. It just makes me sick to think about how difficult some kids' lives are and it makes me feel bad that I sometimes spend money on things for my kids that they don't even need. Thanks for the reminder to re-examine my priorities.

Julie Pippert said...

This is a lovely post full of lovely sentiments. Good for you.

Using My Words

jen said...

what a beautiful post.

and thank you. truly.

the small things sometimes matter the most, those moments of humanity we share with others. it means more than you might think.

Jessica @ A Bushel and a Peck said...

Great post, we are thinking along the same lines here. We're trying to figure out what we can do that a 3-year old will understand...I am hoping that donating some toys and clothes will be a good first step.

mrsnesbitt said...

Understand fully...................I don't put the TV onduring the day.....I find the evening commercials enough to cope with!

Pgoodness said...

It's a difficult concept for children to understand that not everyone has what they have. I'm working hard on the concept of charity with my boys, but while they nod and agree, I don't think it has clicked yet. Just have to keep chugging along.

Good for you for doing. Great post.

shauna said...

What a great post--and perfect for the holiday season. Maybe there aren't many of us who can empathize with being homeless, but I'm sure we've all felt the sweet relief when someone is generous of spirit when we really need it. I've had a few of those moments these last few months and could never articulate how those caring indivdiuals have impacted my life (and the lives of my children) for the better. I try to remember this as I go about my day--how can I make a difference in someone else's life? Thanks so much for the reminder.