Tuesday, December 19, 2006

the ho ho-downer

It gives me pause this time of year - the triggering of the said "holiday spirit" that seems to encompass everything and everyone. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to knock it (really), and philanthropy is generally always a good thing, but why are we hell bent on it for only 3 weeks out of the year?

A grinch-ier sort might be tormented by the hypocrisy, but I really do feel it's unintentional. It's inherent to our culture, to remind ourselves one time a year that others are LESS FORTUNATE.

Our culture needs a smackdown, not the individuals and groups that are trying to do good things for others right now. I really do know that. I do. We couldn't survive without you.

But still.

The newspapers are calling: hey, we are really interested in how you are caring for the homeless right now. Really? Call me back in February, it'll still be freezing then. People are calling: we really want to come and serve food on Xmas. Really? How about December 28th? Or January 6th? We've got openings then.

And here I am sounding exactly how I didn't want to sound. It's the concept I am frustrated with, not the people. That on January 1st we are trained to get back on our own individual life-tracks with heads down and lights off. And I want to figure out a way to keep those lights on.

The Just Post nominations are one way I pledge to do that. Re-awakening my mission of advocating for affordable housing outside of my comfort zone is another. Taking a moment to visit some new friends is yet one more.

We really can stretch the love out all year round. We can beat the damn system. We can.

Join me.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey my lovely wife. Apologies for my silence but I have been a traveling whirling dervish of late. Just got back tonight and should be back on track with my reading soon.

Can't wait to get rolling with the Just Post nominees.

Anonymous said...

OK, your commenting box has been giving me grief of late. If this comment comes up several times, apologies all around:

Hey my lovely wife. Apologies for my silence but I have been a traveling whirling dervish of late. Just got back tonight and should be back on track with my reading soon.

Can't wait to get rolling with the Just Post nominees.

KC said...

Amen. Amen.

That's exactly why you have to keep writing sister.

Christmas everyday of the year. I like the sound of that.

meno said...

Oh fuck the holiday spirit. Like you say, teaching your kids a lesson that we only feel for people on Christmas is the pits. Where are you the other 364 days of the year?
Bah!

Anonymous said...

Well, I agree with Meno, of course.

This is a debate that has gone on for as many years as I can remember...and just as many before my time. "There's nothing new under the sun," some wise man once said.

A line from an old song comes to mind, "Teach your children well." That is where the change will begin. Behavior=values. Lived all year long.

If there's one thing about which I'm certain, it is that M. will be raised right... and she will then pass it along to her children.

That's what counts and that's where it turns around.


Peace,

~Chani

flutter said...

As someone who volunteers often, and talks about it even less, I am grateful when people remember at all.

Just look around, folks. Everyday should bring out the christmas spirit.

Momish said...

It is a rather sad notion that a once a year holiday is the big reminder to help and be generous. That is why I am glad to have people like you to nudge me and the others like me back into shape. You should put a monthly reminder on your site: "It's been x days since Christmas. What have you done lately to help?"

That'll kick start some of our rusty engines back into gear!

Anonymous said...

I know exactly how you feel. Since my biz is on the quarter system, it is easy to remind myself to do something at least 4 times a year! I also belong to organizations that send me requests for my time throughout the year. They make it easy to volunteer around your work schedule.

It is a good place to start if you already belong -and once you go, you will meet others that clue you in to places they are volunteering that need help.

I agree, it is a process that those of us not involved in it every day have to "train" ourselves to do. But it can be done!

Anonymous said...

That's why I was SO impressed with the Just Post concept - and some of the many other ideas from other brides - because you are willing to do the reminders, so many others who might otherwise forget will get that little nudge. There was a nice piece in our local newspaper last night about a man who, as a Boy Scout, became ingrained with the idea "Do a Good Turn Every Day." And the best part is, I DON'T have to try to do something before the end of the year or feel guilty about it because I didn't. The link is fascinating.

Anonymous said...

This is so true. There's an outpouring of volunteerism from Thanksgiving to Christmas and then you can't fill a volunteer slot for months... -SIGH-

You know I'm with you...

Anonymous said...

I love your new friends. (I might have ranted a bit over there - probably got myself into a little trouble ... )

jen said...

um, yeah, s@bd, me too.

what IS wrong with people?

acumamakiki said...

I went to Tony's site and I'm so glad you found it and then let us in on it too.
Because of you and your posts here, I find myself much more compassionate, much more willing to not look down or the other way and to try to help. I stopped doing that for awhile now and I'm glad you've helped me find my way back. xo

mamatulip said...

You have touched on something that, I admit, I really have never considered. But you're right -- come January 1, it's back to the grind, forget about the holiday cheer. Such a great topic, and such good food for thought.

"Holiday spirit" should float us through until next year. I think I'll change my outlook on things after reading this.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of people do want to help, but they feel quite stretched already in their usual lives. They know it's a gesture but they are not ready to commit more yet. It's easier to do quite a lot occasionally and feel you've ticked a box than to do a steady amount all the time. But it is just that steady, reliable help that is really needed. A good PR people to keep reminding the newspapers might help to raise the profile. Finding a couple of nice conventional people to involve their friends (you know I'm nice and conventional, don't you?) is good too.

Anonymous said...

Jen,

I feel this way so often and yet I know that I'm guilty of it, too. I think, perhaps, the season is a reminder to folks who have an interest in helping but don't always think of it other times of the year.

I noticed a huge interest in and outpouring of donations to HIV/AIDS in Toronto after the International AIDS Conference was held here in the summer. I think people just get something on their radar and act on it impulsively. It's not an excuse and it doesn't mean that it's ideal, but apparently most people need continual reminders throughout the year to act.

And I realise that that totally sucks for folks like you who are then charged with not only doing the community service, but also getting it onto people's radar. If only the Just Post award could be awarded to conventional media people...

Anonymous said...

I understand your frustration about getting people to volunteer on days other than Christmas. It's a fairly typical attitude of people, though; for some reason, the holidays are 'special'.

Here in the UK, a savings scheme called Farepak recently collapsed; people who'd been saving for Christmas vouchers for shops pretty much lost all their savings towards it. Well, predictably, everyone is outraged, including politicians, famous people, etc., because these are people who don't have a lot and aren't going to be able to have nice Christmases. They'll need presents! Something must be done!

Now I'm very sympathetic and feel really bad for those families; but as the public essentially calls for the company directors' blood, I've been wondering about all those families who struggle every damn day of the year to survive, not just those trying to save extra money for Christmas presents. Where's the outcry and help for people who can't pay their heating bills and afford to eat more than once a day?

Anonymous said...

You are so completely right, Jen. It hasn't occurred to me before but you are right. It's sad. I hope many people read your post and understand that people need help all year round.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Right on, sister. I agree 100%.

you da mom! said...

i totally agree with you, but i'm thankful at least that one day does bring out the better in people. imagine if there was no xmas. people might just be selfish pricks all the year 'round!

Anonymous said...

My kids and I gave your new friend a winter coat for Christmas, so I guess we're included in the "holiday charity" classification.

ecm said...

So well put. One can only hope the holidays will inspire good cheer throughout other parts of the year.

ecm said...

So well put. One can only hope the holidays will inspire good cheer throughout other parts of the year.