(353/366) The Spirit of Giving

December 18, 2012 – I am not religious, so I choose to ignore that side of Christmas. I think religion segregates us and makes us care more about those who think the same way that we do, giving more to those who share our beliefs isn’t kindness, it isn’t truly charitable.

Christmas isn’t about receiving, it’s about giving. It’s about sharing. It’s about caring. It should be about compassion and companionship, for all, not a select few.

Most of us have too much already, so instead of giving gifts that no one needs, instead of asking for gifts that you don’t really need, wouldn’t it be great if more people gave to those who have little?

There are so many people out there who can barely get what they need, let alone what they want. Maybe take a moment and think about what you can do to help them.

It doesn’t take much to make a difference. Could you give up the cost of a dinner out, or a reasonable bottle of wine? The value of either can make a major difference in someone else’s life.

Years ago Mom made us all stop and think about this. She pointed out how excessive Christmas was becoming and that none of us really needed more “stuff” that we don’t need. Most of us have what we want and what we want that we don’t have, we usually get when we choose. Why agonize over what unnecessary things we should gift to someone who doesn’t really need more?

Her solution was a donation to a charity instead of an expensive present. Sure, we all still wrapped something up for each other, but the volume and the value dropped and went somewhere more worthwhile.

We have given to a number of charities over the years. Sometimes we choose far afield, sometimes close to home. Sometimes we give to human causes, sometimes to natural ones, and sometimes we put our money towards animal causes.

Some worthwhile charities that we have donated to and which I recommend supporting include:

If you want to give something in your own community, and know who it went to and why, and get a gift that someone really wants, this is a wonderful site that can direct you to a specific individual – Homeless Partners They connect you to individual homeless people who often want little more than a pair of warm socks or a new pair of jeans. Such simple requests.

When Mom died last month I came across a package of papers. They were letters tucked inside a Plan Canada booklet. Mom gave to foster a child in Paraguay. It struck me that this little girl was going to lose something of great value to her and her family. Through no fault of hers, she had lost her donor. I have a Plan Canada donor number, so I called them up and explained Mom’s death and that I knew she sponsored a child. I told them they would have to cancel the debits to Mom’s bank account, but asked if it was possible to have the girls sponsorship transferred to me so that she wouldn’t be cut off. It’s such a simple thing, and it costs so little. The cost of one meal out can help support a child for a month. How could we not?

My wish is that we could all want a little less, and give a little more.

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On a side note, today was the final day for the 2012 Cultus sockeye spawning season. I have volunteered my time to the program for the past two seasons and very much enjoy it. When I left home this morning there was a bit of sloppy snow on the road. I glanced at the web cameras in the Valley and they seemed fine. The mistake I made was in not looking at the conditions between home and Chilliwack!

As I drove up our street I turned on the traffic radio to hear that there was a 7 car pileup Southbound on Second Narrows Bridge, a truck flipped Northbound, and three semis stalled on the Cut (the hill down to the bridge).

ABORT, ABORT, ABORT!!!

Pulled a U-turn around the traffic circle and headed over Lion’s Gate Bridge. It took me an hour to get to the Port Mann Bridge (should have taken 20 minutes) and it was a blizzard from downtown Vancouver all the way to Surrey. Traffic was snarled in both directions and I was in the fast lane on the freeway travelling at a brisk 15km/hr. Turning back wasn’t an option since the traffic in to town was gridlock – even worse than what I was in – and there was an accident at pretty much every single offramp anyway. There was an accident in each direction on the Port Mann, the one on my side had just happened and was so obviously a case of the woman driving too fast, too close, and probably hit her brakes and spun around, taking out the front of her 4runner on the centre barrier. I notice that a large number of accidents down at this end of the Province include a lot of SUVs and light trucks, too many people think they are invincible. The roads were just ice-rinks. I crossed the Port Mann and by Langley there wasn’t any evidence of the chaos behind me. Not a flake of snow anywhere, and the road was bare and dry. Usually if it’s bad in the city, it’s much worse out that way. Strangely it was the opposite. On today’s travel, between 7am and 1pm, I hit blizzard-like snow, torrential rain, fog, hail, freezing rain, and even sun. Quite the drive.