Gift Giving & Thankfulness

by C. Margery Kempe

Around this time of year many people start thinking about the gifts they need to buy for the people they love. Sometimes they start to think more about the stress of buying things than they do about the love they wanted to show. Then they get bitter, angry and somewhat hollow around the eyes. Of course that's why we have endless holiday specials to remind of the message of love and friendship that the holidays make us forget.

I think that's the point anyway: I never watch them.

Okay, that's a lie. I will watch A Charlie Brown Christmas even though Yule is my holiday and I will watch Scrooged because I love it, especially Carol Kane. And while I haven't watched it in years, I might occasionally watch It's a Wonderful Life just because it's so gloriously dark and grim (until it's not). And Thanksgiving isn't quite the same without Hannah and Her Sisters, one of the last good Woody Allen films. I've written before about the holiday films I love that aren't sappy, so I won't go on about it; I've even written about Thanksgiving films that will help you survive the long long day that often begins with football pre-game shows and ends with bitter recriminations. I believe in film therapy.

If I do any celebrating, it's usually at the behest of my little brother, who does all the cooking and the decorating while I either read, complain or drink (or all three at once). That's a good tradition as far as I'm concerned. But he's on the other side of the ocean, so we'll be toasting one another via Skype this year. Living in Ireland I'm missing a lot of the frenzied media saturation that's become the usual pell-mell run toward midwinter and I don't mind a bit. But it's not all about cynical merchandising!

I am very thankful for my friends. It is convenient to have a time of year to show it. The gifts I favour are those that help other people. Most of my friends are doing all right: they'd all like to do better, mind you, but they're at least getting by and in the current world economic situation, that's rather good. So here are a couple of places to consider that I have been glad to share with those I care about:

Heifer International: I like insects in general (and have one named after me -- how cool is that?!) and bees in particular. While Heifer is best known for giving cows to help sustain families by giving them long-term sustaining food sources which they can share with others as offspring arrive. But you can also give trees and even, yes, honeybees. How lovely is that?

A less well known group of do-gooders can be found if you're on Facebook over at Hand to Hand Vision. This group was begun by writer Beth Massie and her partner, artist Cortney Skinner, last January on a kind of whim and has been going strong ever since. In Beth's words:

Recently I’ve been thinking of ways I can help others who, during this difficult economic time, could use a hand. So many are struggling to make ends meet, to provide food and shelter for themselves and their families. It's heartbreaking. Though things are tight here, too, I want to do *something.* I believe we're here to help each other. Sharing is a big part of that. I want to help. I want to share. And you can be part of the sharing.

Hand-made items, auctioned off to folks and the cash passed along to folks who could use a helping hand. It's a small group, but it's gaining more followers all the time. If you want to donate a hand-made item, or share in the giving, drop by and check it out. I admire Beth so much as someone who lives her beliefs daily in a tangible way. It's so rare.

And in the end, that's what really matters most: giving what you have to those who matter. Your friends would probably be happiest just laughing and talking with you. Give them the gift of your time. It's precious.


Popular Posts