I had the great fortune to see Jack Kornfield a couple of weeks ago, and it turned out to be his annual end of year holiday blessing and a discussion on renewal and generosity.
It was a truly lovely talk - pointing to the ways in which generosity and renewal weave through so many holidays at this time of the year. He read some truly beautiful stories -- and I wish I had paid better attention to the title of the book in order to share here.
Suffice to say, I was moved to action on a thought I have been cultivating for a few years. As hard as it is to not participate in the rabid commercialization of Christmas and gift giving, it is somewhat easier when you are broke. I still, though, even in lean years cobbled together small tokens for my family and friends ... and often felt badly that I could not do more even though I knew that these were not people who *needed* gifts. Indeed, who really needs them?
Though, I have also thought about how fortunate I have always been to have something under the tree and enough to eat. Several times I have tried, with my siblings, to move the family from gift giving to no avail.
This year I decided to not even participate in Christmas by choosing not to go home.
Instead for Christmas (or New Year), I am trying to practice what I preach about generosity. I don't want any Christmas gifts beyond good wishes for continued personal growth. And I want to honor those nearest and dearest by giving in their names. And I am sending some cards out to my loved ones, hopefully they will make it into the mail in time for the New Year...
If you are not sure where to give, here are some ideas.
I love Homeboy Industries -- they do tremendous work with the people everyone else has given up hope on -- and they are very successful. If you are not ready to just give in someone's name, you can buy merchandise, including delicious cookies and other goodies, and support the work in that way.
I stumbled upon this group because of the video above -- it is a good way to connect with families in need. This group will give you a way to help families month to month and in many ways including with your money and your time. I was lucky that my work place sponsored a family, so I was able to contribute to that gift giving. But, this seems like a great way to make sure that families are happier and healthier on a regular basis.
My friend convinced me to try Kiva even though I have known about their work in the past, I just hadn't taken the leap. The gift I gave was a "dedication" which means that I won't get to reinvest the returns. So, I am going to try to just add to the pot as I can. I only have a small amount to work with, but I am looking forward to hearing how even that small amount can help.
This marvelous story about one woman's generosity and how her family and friends have carried on her loving ways also inspired me -- and they take donations to try to make a special day for as many children as possible.
Funding your local food bank/pantry or volunteering there is always a wonderful way to support your community!
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