I just don’t happen to be one of them.
Maybe it is because I’m a male, or maybe because I don’t care for crowds. I rate Christmas shopping right up there with going through the Atlanta airport. I can do it if I must, but I prefer walking barefoot across hot coals.
And just in case you may share these same feelings, let me propose what I think is a great alternative to traditional Christmas shopping.
This is choosing some non-profit entity and making a generous donation to it in honor of those you love and want to remember during the holiday season. Actually, my brother and sister and I have been doing this for years.
It began when all three of us struggled with trying to decide what to buy Mother and Daddy. Did they really need anything? What could we get them that wouldn’t be quickly forgotten and banished to a closet to gather dust for eternity?
In fact, I remember saying to Daddy one time, “You know, it’s really hard to figure out what to get you for Christmas.”
And I’ll never forget his reply. “Yes, I did the same thing for years with my own daddy.”
That year, my siblings and I made a nice contribution to the library at Red Level High School in Covington County in honor of our parents, who both graduated from there.
Since then, I’ve contributed to a number of good causes. Food banks, pre-K programs, ministries and so forth. I just write them a check and give them the names and addresses of loved ones and ask that they send them a letter explaining what was done. Everyone I’ve ever approached has been more than happy to do this in exchange for help.
Mother and Daddy are now gone, but not my brother and sister and others. They now know they will get a letter from someone, just as I know I will get a letter from some entity Barbara and Steve have contributed to.
Let me suggest that you consider doing the same thing — and that the beneficiary of your kindness is involved in education such as a school, a PTO, a classroom, a school club or a special-education fund-drive.
Stop by a school and talk to the principal, tell them what you want to do and watch their face light up. Call your local school board office and ask them what kind of assistance they need. Do they know of any children with special needs this holiday season? Is there a special project a school has been working on to make their learning environment better? Is there a choral group that could use new music? Could the drama club use new sound equipment?
I once raised money to build a shower in an inner-city school after the principal explained that many of her students come from homes where the water has been turned off because bills were not paid on time. And I never drop by that school without thinking about the shower and feeling good that it is still being used long after another pair of bedrooms slippers would’ve worn out.
No doubt, some will read this and think, “Boy, he’s just trying to find the easy way out of Christmas shopping.” And no doubt, there is some truth in that thought.
Still, Christmas is not just the season of giving for the sake of giving; it is the season of truly being generous with our own blessings and thinking of those who are perhaps less fortunate. And going out of our way to share our blessings with our schools, their students and their mission embodies the spirit of the season in a most meaningful way.
May God bless you and yours during this special time of the year.
Larry Lee led the study, “Lessons Learned from Rural Schools,” and is a long-time advocate for public education and frequently writes about education issues. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.