Each year during this time, we’re encouraged to give presents. Regardless of your religious affiliation, the celebration of “Christmas” in America seems to have long ago transitioned into a national shopping holiday. Anyone who has ever fought tooth-and-nail for a parking space to go into a crowded mall and sit on Santa’s lap knows that the key question he asks is: “What would you like for Christmas?” And unlike a Miss America pageant, if you say “World Peace” – he’s going to give you a weird look.
So instead of making this season about buying, I want to truly make this season about giving. Christmas is not about acquiring more stuff – it’s about (and brace yourself, because I’m about to get hokey here) realizing how much love you have, and sharing it with others.
This year, I am aiming to spend at least 20 days during December giving – either by a donation of money or time.
Yesterday marked World AIDS Day, with events held around the world – including a huge 10-hour concert in Johannesburg, South Africa – the country which is estimated to have the world’s highest percentage of people living with AIDS.
I donated online through the UN Foundation, which works directly with the United Nations to identify and direct funds to worthy organizations worldwide. (You can donate as little as $5.)
Possibly the most visible campaign against AIDS, the Product (RED) campaign – also contributes a portion of money made through the sales of Product (RED) items towards the Global Fund, which focuses on eliminating AIDS in Africa. If you’ve purchased a (RED) Gap t-shirt, iPod Nano, or Armani wristwatch – a portion of those proceeds support the campaign.
This year, make a pledge to yourself. Skip a couple of morning lattes, pack a lunch from home, take the $10 or $15 you save and give it to a worthy organization. Or donate an old coat to kids who don’t have one. Serve a meal at a shelter.
If you can, hand-make cards and gifts. They’ll be more meaningful – because they were made with love.
Stay tuned for more ways to give.