I started Autumn worrying about how I was going to pay for Christmas, writing a list of things to do for money: donate plasma, sell marijuana, sleep with men for money, sell half my liver on the black market, become a corporate hitman… Then it happened. My husband got a big check. When you get money like that, a shopping impulse turns on. So I started buying Christmas gifts for the kids telling myself, “This is it until Black Friday.” Before I knew it, I had enough to give them Christmas.
So my husband joins in on the madness. We bought an Xbox 1 off of Amazon for his birthday.
The best sales in my neck of the woods were on Thanksgiving. I was like “I don’t need to get anything for the kids except 5 presents to make it fair, so I’ll just shop for other people.” Before I knew it, I probably bought 50 items from Kmart alone. Then I went to Walmart and bought stuff. Then I drove home feeling guilty for the amount of money I spent. I told myself, “I’m done.”
Well, the next day, I needed scissors (to start wrapping gifts). I went to the Dollar General, and they only had kid scissors in stock, so that means what? I had to go to Walmart for a pair of scissors on Black Friday. I did. I spent $300 on a pair of scissors and more gifts.
My savings account is not as big as I’d like it to be at this point.
Sunday… I was driving down the road telling myself, “If Jesus was giving fish to the hungry, I’d be that asshole who ate 10 pieces by myself dropping 7 additional pieces on the floor while others are waiting to eat as Jesus is fatigued, wanting some alone time, trying to feed people. I’d be that asshole. Here I am, I just passed two homeless men I couldn’t give 20’s to because I spent too much money Christmas shopping. It’s really hard to see people who would be happy with a meal for Christmas and here I am spoiling my kids with presents like we are royalty. Maybe I should be more like Socrates, and live with only what I need, well maybe more like Plato where my idea of what I need is a little more pampered than most, but still….” then I got out of my car, while rambling this stuff in my head, went into a store for Anti-freeze, and I bought another toy for my kid for Christmas. SMH. I’m hopeless.
Don’t get me wrong.We did give to charities in this process, it’s just that in comparison to what we’ve spent on ourselves, it just feels wrong. So for penance, I’m going to tell you that I just discovered from The Dose of Reality that after Cyber Monday is Giving Tuesday. In her blog post based on KORD’s post (that’s a radio station, not a dark lord), she lists things food banks need we don’t think about. Cheap things. I’m going to mention some things on that list and add to it…
2. Peanut Butter and Jelly
3. Tampons and Pads
4. Diapers and wipes
5. Powdered Formula
6. Canned fruit that isn’t pineapple
7. Canned meat (people need protein)
8. Crackers and Tortillas
10. Toiletries (shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant)
And a homeless person was quoted stating that SOCKS meant the world to them, so I say not just any socks, but those soft warm ones.
Non-profits can always use straight COLD HARD CASH with no stipulation on how it’s spent. If you stipulate, they can’t exactly use it where it’s needed, and sometimes that’s for food to give away, and other times, it’s a salary of the person who is there all day giving it away, or the toilet paper they use while there. Most of their grants have stipulations, and most lean on donations to cover what the grants won’t.
I may not be able to donate the level I give to my kids, but I can still donate more this season, and even better, I can urge all of you to as well. Have a Happy Giving Tuesday!